The first time someone realizes that I’m not from this area, curiousity immediately interrupts the conversation. The initial question is always asking about where I am from, Texas. “Texas? What are you doing in Michigan?!” I smile and sift through the variety of answers inside my head and usually end up sharing that ultimately, we needed a life change. The responder usually seems to connect with that statement but eventually questions again, “why Michigan?”
Laying in bed, on a September morning five years ago, I had never felt more alone. My husband traveled over Labor Day weekend to Michigan and I stayed back in Texas. Pregnant and caring for an active two year old, my tasks included wrapping up my work, packing up the house, and saying goodbye to a lifetime of loved ones. Hefty tasks for a highly emotional and hormonal woman.
Although my husband and I had been engaging in conversations about moving for years we had not had anything open up that would allow for such life-altering change. He had applied and interviewed for jobs in town to no avail time and time again. Being from the midwest and a wanderer at heart he was persistent in inviting me into an adventure outside of Texas. Although I knew moving was a possibility, I really had never imagined anything else than what I had always known.
Each time he would talk about a potential job and location, anxiety started to grow within me. I made sure to offer measured responses that told him I was with him in whatever the outcome may be but also let him know that this was a terrifying step and a decision not to be taken lightly for me. Somewhere in the depths of my heart, I believed that God would open the doors in such a clear and obvious way if we were to move away.
He didn’t. And, when He didn’t I had a choice to make. Somewhere along the way, I began to theorize that if I was making the right choice, there would be no discomfort. As I looked at the choices that surrounded me though, discomfort was inevitable. The invitation to move came in the form of a commision-only sales job for my husband. A completely new arena for him but one that he felt excited about tackling. The location was exactly where we had decided we wanted to be and I cautiously told him, yes. Yes, let’s go.
But wait! How are we going to explain this? What are we going to tell our families? What are they going to do with us, with me? This is never going to be okay. What are our friends going to say? Truth is, we had spent hours upon hours digging around in the stories and pieces of our marriage that led to the desire to move away from my hometown. One of the most difficult parts about sharing a big decision with the people you love is the impossibility of describing something that is extremely intimate in a way that brings clarity and understanding to someone who has not wrestled with the decision himself.
I’m fairly certain we did not make much sense to anyone. Afterall, who leaves two stable jobs, a home, a network of resources, beloved friends and family when you have a two year old and another child on the way? Better yet, who thinks that a commision-only job is going to be enough to provide for a growing family? Who moves across the country without a permanent place to live? It all sounds ridiculously crazy!
Crazy. It was. Except that I held in my heart the truth of why this was the choice that had to be made. We had been married for five years, and I had discovered that my loyalty did not fully belong to my husband.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
This is where God’s beautiful design for marriage begins, in leaving.
Leaving does not always mean a dramatic change of location but for me, it did. The stakes were high and the collateral damage somewhat unmanageable, but I knew in my heart that this, this was what I was being called to do.
I wish I could say that I left in a beautiful way. That everyone had complete understanding. That gratitude was expressed and that blessing was given. This is where the tension lies in second chances. Honestly, I fumbled my way through most conversations, and sadness filled the hearts of those being left behind. So, I carried it all in my heart as I turned to cleave to the man I chose to love in covenant relationship.
The weaving of our hearts these last five years has been beautiful and awful. I have desired to lean in and be held by his gentle arms, and I have wanted to run away as far as I can, both in the same day. There has been struggle and loss, joy and acceptance. There have been chances to love him well and opportunities to fail miserably, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that this treacherous road is completely necessary and exactly where we have needed to be.
Bethany Cabell is a Texas transplant, residing in Michigan with her husband and their two young boys. A lover of beauty, she lives life chasing after wide-open spaces: sharing her heart with others, in relationship with Jesus, and through music and photography. She tells her story here.