For the majority of my life, I’ve felt drawn to change. Not the dye-my-hair-every-season type of change, but a voracious hunger for new surroundings, new roles to explore, new relationships to replace old. I moved across the city, the country, the world; I changed majors, I changed career paths; I tried new hobbies, I entered new communities. I considered it courageous—to be able to let go of familiar and explore new.
Looking back, I realize I often sought a change in avoidance of my need to change.
My journey was toward a place to belong. When asked, “Where’s home?” I’d stutter. A typical, superficial conversation starter would stir feelings of sadness and loneliness as I confronted the reality that I’d never stayed anywhere long enough to let my roots grow deep.
My quest for belonging took me from conservative areas to liberal ones, big schools to small, traditional churches to charismatic, and even U.S. cities to European towns. I would give it a shot, grow tired of it, and move on to the next place. The exploring was exciting, meaningful, and revealing of who I am. But the main message I heard (which I now know is a “lie”) was, “You do not belong anywhere.”
Still, I took pride in dropping the convenient and familiar in exchange for exploration and adventure. And that can be amazing, or it can be avoidance. I was looking to replace broken and bored parts of my life rather than working to restore and refresh them.
My definition of change used to be to throw the book away and start fresh. If I wanted better friendships, I’d look for new friends. More fulfillment at work, find a new job. Hungering for more beauty, I assumed I needed to change scenery.
The brilliant C.S. Lewis once said: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
I didn’t need a change. I needed to change.
Expounding on Lewis’s quote, I now believe I can create a different ending to any story not by trading something, but by transforming my character. Recently, I decided to do things differently—to develop the character of my story. I chose to step out of my comfort zone and engage my surroundings with greater courage, intentionality, and commitment. Not liking my environment, I stayed and changed me. I changed my ways, which transformed my understanding of relationships, which cultivated my heart.
In a very short amount of time, I felt that I belonged. I was home. A new ending had been written. While I will always race toward adventure, my need for new has decreased. I now can see the potential of what I already have and the beauty of restoring it. Now, when my heart prompts me to seek a change, I first consider how I need to change.
Abby Combs is a therapist at Sage Hill Counseling in Brentwood, TN. New to Nashville, she originally heralds from the greater Chicago-area. Abby is a lover of nature, grateful to be in a state with so many trails, caves, and waterfalls to explore. She is currently pursuing licensure for Marriage and Family Therapy here in Tennessee while holding her M.A. from Wheaton College.