7 Prayers for the Transient: Part I

I am approaching my three year anniversary living in Atlanta. And I have no plans to move. This officially marks Atlanta as the place I have lived the longest since graduating high school.

There’s something really wonderful about settling into a place long enough to nurture growing friendships, locate tasty Peruvian food, and be summoned for jury duty. But, I must admit, I miss… just a little bit… the newness, excitement, and adventure that comes with moving.

When I plan for a move, I love to imagine idealistic moments of my new life in the future location. I’m always happy in the new place… never bored, frustrated, or dealing with car troubles. I host a lot of fictitious dinner parties, take long, leisurely walks, and have perfect, beach-y waves in my hair.

You could say my expectations are unrealistic… but hey, at least I get a new driver’s license photo.

But the reality is that moving can be fun. You get to meet new people, experience new places, and discover new hangouts.  You shake up the routine.

By the same token, it can also be really difficult.  You’re starting over… searching for new friends, seeking out a church, and often adjusting to a new job.

During one of my first moves post-college, I found myself extremely lonely and discouraged.  Without my girls living down the hall in the dorms, intramural sports, communal cafeterias, and readily available Bible studies and prayer groups, it was difficult to feel connected socially, spiritually, and emotionally to my new life. 

So one day I sat down and made a list of the aspects I felt would compose a full and fulfilling life for me. I tried to think of all the different facets of my life and consider what I needed.  I then began to pray for and intentionally seek out each of the things on this list, which I now call 7 Prayers for the Transient. I will share a few today and follow up in the next couple of weeks. 

Meaningful Work

It’s important for me to be doing something that I enjoy, that engages me, and that I feel has value bigger than me. While in graduate school, the monotony of classes left me looking for somewhere to invest my time and energy that felt meaningful. In that case, I forced myself to move forward choosing a focus for my master’s thesis that brought me life because I needed that sense of larger purpose.
Many times, though, my moves have been fueled by the very fact that I am heading towards meaningful work. I have decided to move because I have found jobs with organizations that excite and inspire me. That’s when I realized I can become too focused on meaningful work and assume that this is the only thing a person needs to have a full life. That’s too much for one job to fill.

Physical Activity

Who doesn’t love a good Prison Break marathon?  I’m actually in the middle of one right now.  Still, there’s something to all those magazines telling you how good you’ll feel if you exercise regularly. I can’t testify to it because it’s been years since I felt good after exercising… or tried it regularly… could these two statements be related? Hmmmm…. we might be onto something. Generally, though, I exercise for about a week and then get a cold. It’s very weird and freakishly predictable.

But in my ideal world, I’m turning off the TV and walking, bike riding, or playing basketball.  Note: I’m never “jogging”… I have rules about these things.

Mental Stimulation

I have a very clear memory during my time directing an after school program. I’m standing in front of the supply closet, bordering on full-scale meltdown because I didn’t have enough paper cups for snack time.  Staring at the shelves of plates, forks, and napkins, I heard my brain beg me, “C’mon, Sarah! You have got to give me more than this.”

My delightful brain is decidedly overactive, and I have realized that when I don’t keep it properly engaged, it will create its own dramas… hyper-focusing and over-analyzing. I can quickly blow everyday occurrences out of proportion and lose all sensible perspective when my brain has very little to ponder.

A new job often provides that mental stimulation because you’re learning the ropes, but oftentimes, once you get the hang of it, many tasks are repetitive and require little brainpower. That’s why I am constantly having to remember to seek out new topics to learn at work. But even if it’s not happening in the workplace, I’ve taken courses at a community college, joined book clubs, or taught classes as an adjunct. It really helps put paper cup situations in proper perspective. 

I'll wrap this post up here for today. Nothing earth shattering, I realize, but good reminders nonetheless. I have four more areas where I seek to maintain a sense of balance and fullness in life in a new place. 

However, even after three years in Atlanta, I find myself coming back to my list, searching for new ideas because even though I may not be moving, I may be still up for shaking up the routine a little bit.  

Check out Part II.

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