A New Trail, A New Chapter

I think I first fully realized the weight of it as my feet pounded the dark earth, the still green leaves bearing the first hints of fall as they danced with the idea of fleeing their branches. This would be the last time I would run the ground of home as I knew it— home as a singular, constant comfort. Goodbyes blurred with hellos, endings with beginnings. So I savored the way the trail curves and the greeting of the white barn on the hill when the flowers are in bloom because I realized I would soon be running a new trail, beginning a new journey.

Sometimes nature is a canvas, allowing us time and space to find the art of what it means to live, love, and worship. For five years that trail greeted me several times a week. I’ll never forget the way it feels to run across the old bridge at the end of a long run or the way the leaves crunch under running shoes in fall. Without me realizing, it became a sacred place for me to just breathe in God’s beauty and pray with my eyes wide open. It’s where I began to figure out what love is and pondered hard questions. It offered a peaceful escape from frustration and the stress of high school. I hardly understood the significance of that trail until I realized I would be 230 miles away from its haven.

God has a way of using small realities to lead us through the big moments in life. I think he knows that change is overwhelming if we understand it as a whole. So maybe that’s why it all feels surreal in the midst of transition, we walk through it one step at a time. He can use something as simple as an old railroad trail to speak the promises of his faithfulness.

After three weeks, I’m settled into the newness of college and learning the realm of this new chapter. It has been quite a whirlwind of emotions. I’ve been blessed to meet friends who treasure the things I do, who have come alongside me as we take this first step together. I wake up each morning still a little surprised and extremely thankful that I get to call Anderson my school. Yet even when a hello is good, it doesn’t mean the goodbye doesn’t hurt. These few weeks haven’t gone by exactly as I hoped they would. I have been overwhelmed with the change at times. I’ve missed home, my family, friends, and my boyfriend. My classes are challenging. Establishing an entirely new routine can be stressful. But in the midst of it all,  I have felt a constant peace knowing that this is where God wants me to be. That’s all that truly matters anyway. Whether it is a day full of laughter or a day marked with homesickness, God’s plan is greater. His faithfulness doesn’t leave us even when we leave what we know.

As I pondered a conclusion for these words, I headed into the early fall South Carolina air to let my feet return to the pavement. I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going, but I ran. I marveled at the way in which God was bringing this first step of change full circle. I smiled in the unknown. My heart rested in that small moment that carried grand significance. The next steps, though daunting, hold the same promise of peace.

Life will bring transition time and time again. Feeling the tension of the in between is a bond that unites us all. Let us walk in the peace that God grows us in the change. May we find the blessing in the small moments in the middle of big change. I feel sure that God will give me a new trail, a new adventure, and a deeper trust in him through every transition ahead. He is faithful.

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