The Place for Me

When we first began to seriously consider moving to Toronto (about two years ago, I think), one of my fears was that there wouldn’t be enough trees in Toronto to satisfy my craving for green, growing things.

(It might sound like a silly fear, but in my defense, we had recently driven through a neighbourhood in Toronto where there truly did not seem to be many trees.)

I had that fear in my heart.

And you know what God did?

He found us an apartment on a corner, and the street on one side of us is Treeview. It is lined with beautiful trees.

Can you believe it?

I just made this connection in the past few months, and I love it.

We’ve been living here exactly one year now. In the first few months of living here, we were often asked how we were adjusting to life in Toronto, and my answer was always that the “adjustment had been surprisingly simple.” And I meant it, too.

However.

I finally hit a rough spot. It happened at the beginning of July.

It was a feeling of “I-don’t-belong-here,” and I think it came because the job that I had been doing ever since we moved had come to an end. Along with the ending of the job came the realization that outside of my job, I hadn’t really formed any connections with people here. Being the introvert that I am, it doesn’t really bother me to spend days on end on my own. However, the idea that I might actually not be capable of forming new friendships did bother me. Also, sometimes it feels like, in order to be a truly good Christian, you need to be able to quickly form close connections with other people so that you can show them Jesus’ love. I wasn’t doing that, and therefore felt guilty.

To sum all that up… I felt lonely, and like I didn’t have anyone to give to here. (Which is ridiculous, I know. There are so many different ways of giving all around me.)

Pair “lonely-in-Toronto” with “growing-relationships-with-wonderful-people-at-my-church-in-Kitchener” and “scared-to-find-a-job-in-Toronto” with “there’s-a-school-in-Hawkesville-that-I-know-and-love-and-so-why-would-I-ever-pursue-anything-else-besides-teaching-is-such-a-noble-fulfilling-job-and-i-miss-it-so-much-and-maybe-some-year-soon-i-could-teach-there-again”. This is a formula for wanting to return to the place I left behind.

And so that’s what happened.

That other life was just such a good one. A job I loved and was getting better at, family and friends close by…

I think I even started to resent Toronto. (Yes, the entire city.)

I shoved back the pain of the lack of relationships in Toronto by telling myself I didn’t actually need them. I have lots of people who care about me in Waterloo, and that’s really all I need, right?

Well, maybe.

But holding onto that mindset would deprive me of beautiful things.

There was a day at the end of August where I had the privilege of going back to the school in Hawkesville that I love and spending several hours in the loveliest, best-feeling classroom with my friend Meghan, and then participating in a meeting with teachers that I admire and miss. I knew that being there was going to be hard in a way, because I was feeling so strongly that I wanted that school to be my place again.

And I did experience that feeling.

I did experience some jealousy, some longing, some teacher-ideas and inspiration creeping into my brain, making me feel like a teacher is what I truly am meant to be.

I felt those things.

But somehow…

At the end of the day…

When I drove away…

It was all okay.

I had expected to feel completely convinced that we should move back to Waterloo as soon as possible.

But I felt the opposite.

I felt like it was okay to be in Toronto. That there are things for me here too. Things that I want. Things that I can do, even if they don’t feel comfortable and I don’t know yet whether I love them.

This life in Toronto is a sacrifice in some ways, but a gift in others.

I think it had to be God who gave me those feelings, because I sure did not want to feel that, and it was not the natural outcome of the day.

That night I slept at my family’s house, and the next day we canned peaches and tomatoes, and made salsa and spaghetti sauce.

I drove home after that day of canning, slightly sticky and definitely exhausted.

When I got home after dark, Ricky helped me unload the car by carrying a box full of jars of freshly canned tomatoes and peaches inside.

I put my Waterloo food on my Toronto shelf, and I think it looks beautiful there.

Next, we went to the living room, freshly painted white. We pushed the furniture back against the walls, some in the same spots and some in new spots. We put all of our books on one gigantic new bookshelf. We hung a print up on the wall, and made plans to soon add more pictures to the wall around it.

And it felt more like our place than it ever has before.

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Soon after I felt these things, I stumbled across two things that made me feel like God was reaffirming for me that it is good and right for me to be here right now. 

One was a podcast episode of Emily P. Freeman’s, called “Be a Placemaker”. She speaks about honestly acknowledging the place we are in, and then doing what we need to do to make it beautiful and valuable. It is available here as a blog post. (Also, how many times have I told you to get some Emily P. Freeman in your life? If you haven’t yet… well. You’re just missing out.) 

“There are some things you can still choose, like making a place where your roots are lacking, like believing for sure that God is with you, like doing your next right thing in love.”

-Emily P. Freeman

The second thing that I found and connected with was this blog post by Rosina Schmucker. Life sometimes ends up looking different than we expected it to, and that’s okay. 


What about you? Have you ever had to be intentional about putting down roots? We’d love to hear about it. Specifically- ahem- about how you went about doing it. 

3 thoughts on “The Place for Me

  1. Oh Jasmine, so timely for me. I’m in the first month of a new home and community – and sometimes I feel surprised by the easy and delightful moments, and sometimes I feel like I’m just wandering around in someone else’s life. How I’m putting down roots? Well… it’s likely too soon. I agree about putting my Waterloo books on a bookshelf here in Meadville – that went a long way. Deciding on my favourite grocery store helped too. And laying in my hammock outside helps me connect to the new land and outdoor spaces…. still gotta get into your jogging groove though. 🙂

    1. There is something about choosing a grocery store that helps a lot. I completely identify. I recently worked up the courage to find a Toronto dentist and I found that helped too, in a small sort of way. As for the jogging groove… I fell out of it this summer and am planning to get back into it this fall. 🙂
      I hope that your transition goes well every step of the way, and that there are kind people all around you to help should you come to any bumpy sections.

  2. So good, Jasmine! I think I should’ve had this when I went away from home to teach school in the Ozarks when I was 19. And then again when I moved to Waterloo County several years later… But, there was the cabin that I found back in the Arkansas “holler” and the mill race trail that we had running along the property of our first basement apartment after we were married. So I guess nature made it easier for me to make my home in a new place. And, I think, always bringing my creativity into a new situation was a help. This is what I see, looking back.
    I love the shadows that your unique lamp makes on the wall in that one pic!!

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