Roots. That’s the word that stuck out to me when I ran across SingleRoots several months ago. “Roots” is a loaded word in my vocabulary. You see, I spent my early years after college fighting the idea of having roots, of being planted and getting stuck.
To me, roots equaled death. I loved being footloose and fancy free (as my momma always says) and couldn’t understand why so many of my friends were willing to plant themselves in these permanent situations. Even though I had a full-time teaching job, I knew, if I really wanted to, I could sell all my possessions, quit my job, and just drive. Nothing held me down, because my future held Something Better.
But here’s the thing I’ve finally figured out: Roots are better.
When I first moved to DFW, whether I realized it or not, I experienced culture shock. I am from a small, university town in west Texas. My family knows everyone. (No, seriously, it’s true.)
After I graduated from college, I uprooted my whole life and moved to the big city. I started a teaching job in southwest Fort Worth where no one knew me and no one cared how I was adjusting to this major life change. I soon came to realize that I might have depended on my small town upbringing a little too much. I spent most of that year thinking, “Man, there’s got to be Something Better than this.”
I spent the next few years moving around DFW in search of Something Better—a better job, better apartment, better church, better whatever. The church part was always the hardest. Is there a place in this world where being single is more obvious? Um, no. There’s not. I had gone to the same church my whole life and no church I visited in Dallas ever compared.
I would love the new change in the beginning, but soon find the sparkle wore off just as it had everywhere else. Even though I believe every change I made during that time was for a reason, I soon began to grow weary. I was lonely. I had no steady community. I called my Mom and Dad crying, wondering if this place would ever feel like home.
I was over looking for Something Better. I wanted it now. One evening, after a particularly tearful conversation with my parents, I lay on my bed trying to recover. I saw my Bible on my nightstand. I had yet to do my daily reading, but the thought of it was exhausting. I sure didn’t want to open that book.
It was obligation, not love, which led me to open my Bible that night to Psalm 16:
1 Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.
5 LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
A dawn came over me as that Scripture sank in. Instead of trusting the Lord, I had been listening to my own selfish heart and desires. And the sad part was I didn’t even recognize it until I was staring at the bottom of a pit of self-created isolation masked as independence.
Deep down, I did not trust He had my life secure. I was sure that I had the power to make my own way. But that was a lie. I was too busy desperately looking around for anything to make it better, and I failed to recognize what was right in front of me all along.
The incredibly sad and humbling part is that the Lord seemed to be my last stop. For someone who claims Christ as my Savior, that’s a tough thing to realize. I had planted my trust and sense of security in all these worldly things and in my own abilities.
What I discovered is that the Something Better I longed for wasn’t somewhere else. He was, in fact, right where I was standing, waiting to take root in my heart. I spent all this time running after something that wasn’t Jesus. No wonder I was miserable! Since this revelation, the Lord opened my eyes to the blessings before me. Joy in my job, friendships, and an awesome church home have bloomed in the absence of my Something Better mentality.
I was sure that “putting down roots” would result in death. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I have discovered Life, and Life Abundant.
A life of purpose in the name of the Lord doesn’t just happen. It takes careful nurturing, cultivation, and trust. If I am running and reaching as hard as I can for Jesus, no matter where I live, what job I have, what church I attend, I am firmly rooted in Him.
And my roots have given life.
*Photo credit: Fishermansdaughter