I am moving.
I didn’t see this coming a year ago.
We had just bought a house, a house big enough to grow into, one that fit the size of the dreams we had for our life in this city.
I thought we had turned the corner with the Vine and that the next season of our lives was going to involve settling down and raising a family.
I thought my time in Haverhill would be measured in decades, not in months.
However, life does not fit with my best-intentioned prognostications. As the dust settled from the Vine’s unexpected ending and we assessed our options, we realized that, if there was a time to make a change, this was a good one. After talking with family and a few close friends, after a lot of prayer and thought, we realized that God is calling us to live in Portland, ME for the next season of our lives.
I’m excited. Portland fits us. We can be close to our family, we can reconnect with childhood friends, we can become part of a good faith community, and put down roots in a genuinely exciting place to live.
I’m also grieving.
I will miss this city.
Haverhill has become home to me. I’ve grown to love how much it feels like a small town, even though it has 60,000 people. I love its deep history, stretching back to far before the Revolutionary War. I’ve grown to love its people, a quirky mix of ages, cultures, and ideologies that have constantly pushed me out of my own relational and political enclaves. I’ve grown to love living in a community that is genuinely turning the corner, knowing that I had a (very) small part of making that happen.
I’ve grown to love the people of this city: the growing group community-minded residents who volunteer selflessly; those incredibly courageous people who make life work in difficult neighborhoods and unfair life circumstances; those business owners I’ve met who really believe that part of their job is blessing the people they’ll miss. I’ll miss the incredible youth I’ve taught, (yes, Charlotte and Montserrat, that’s you!) who amaze me with their creativity, compassion, and joy. Every time we share with someone our plans to move and they threaten to burn down our house so we can’t go, (jokingly, right?) or say, “You don’t need to go to be closer to family, you have family here!”, or start tearing up, I ask myself again, “Do we really have to leave?”
And every time, I discover that the answer is: yes.
A yes that comes with tears, but a yes, nonetheless.
I hope that my grief means that I did something right: that in the midst of the mess that was my journey in this place, that in the midst of all my mistakes, naive assumptions, and dreams that went sideways, I somehow blundered (at least a little bit) into sharing the love that God has for this city as well.
To all of you who will be a part of my journey in Portland, I can’t wait to meet you.
And: to all of you who have been a part of my journey in Haverhill, thank you, thank you, thank you.