Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made,
Those are pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change,
into something rich and strange,
Sea-nymthps hourly ring his knell,
Hark! now I hear them, ding dong, bell.
-Shakespeare, The Tempest
I am not an overly insightful reader. And I lack quite a bit of analytical ability. I’m more of a gut feeling, experiential, try-it-and-see-what-happens learner. So, this little blurb from Shakespeare meant very little to me. Thankfully the book in which I read it took the time to explain that the sea-change described is like a baptism of sorts. A dunking and then turning into something brand new. That is most certainly something I am familiar with. But this sea-change is not the traditional baptism I have always thought of. Instead, it is like coming up out of one’s old life and into something totally new.
A change. A big one.
I am in the midst of this sea-change. And I’m not quite sure I have come out of the water, actually. I have been dunked.
Dunked under by life.
And there I am, just feet beneath the surface. Close enough that I can see those above me on the shore, walking and living life. But I can’t get out to join them yet. I’m there floating, eyes wide open, hair swirling about me, wondering when I get to burst through the surface and breath deeply again.
It’s that first breath I’m waiting for.
And then the slow strokes that will bring me to a depth at which my feet can touch the sandy sea floor. With unsure steps, I fight the waves and undercurrents and feel the full weight of my body as I walk ashore and the water no longer carries me. This will be the next step in my sea-change.
And on the shore, the other side of this dramatic change, this seems to be where life starts again. Where there is no fog and everything before me is clear.
This sea-change was started as I read Shauna Niequist’s book, Present Over Perfection. As she described her own sea-change, I realized I was in deep need of one. I was living a life that I really didn’t like. I was doing everything that had become expected of me. For the last seven years we have been working with a non-profit group and within that group I found myself feeling so boxed in. Like there was a certain culture within it and if I didn’t fit into that culture, I was a failure. And that was on top of living in a foreign country, trying to figure out that culture! Basically, I realized that I was feeling so lost. Disconnected. Not just because I was an American floundering in a country so very different from my own. But because I started to feel like I couldn’t live the life I wanted. I couldn’t offer my children the opportunities I wanted to offer them. And there was so much more. So many more limitations I felt.
And all I longed for was freedom.
And as I read Shauna’s book, she emphasised that each of us have the absolute and complete power to make our lives exactly what we want them. These cultures I felt boxed in and stifled by…I had a choice.
And that called for a monumental change.
And admitting that I wanted this change was so hard. To myself. To my husband. To my friends. Because as a Christian, these things become so spiritual. And not that they aren’t. But that’s not all they are. God’s will. Our own choices. Happiness. Contentedness…in any and all circumstances. Really? What if I can’t find it for the life of me? Is that a clue that maybe I’m in the wrong place. Doing the wrong thing. Surrounded by the wrong people. Honestly, I have no idea. What I do know is that I had been trying so desperately hard to be happy where I was. To do what everyone thought I should be doing. And I hated it.
I told no one but my husband. And I don’t think I bore it all when we first had the conversation about it.
But several months later, after a horrible few days of laying on the couch, crying and depressed…after my five year old told me she thought I was dying…I told my husband the whole truth. I hated what we were doing. I saw no hope for my future in the life we were living. I saw no hope for my children’s future. All for multiple reasons. And my husband agreed with every single one of them.
And so…here we are. Floating just beneath the surface of our sea-change. We sold everything and moved back to the US. We ended our life in a country we had tried so hard to make home. We said goodbye to truly great friends. We promised our children that though the change would be hard, it would be worth it. We promised we would stop moving them. And they believed us as much as their tiny little hearts could.
Now, in one month we finish with the company we’ve been with for seven years. This job change is the scariest one we’ve made. This decision was the hardest one we’ve made. Probably because it was so huge. And no going back. And we have three little kids with one more coming. This change is it. We won’t move our kids so drastically again. In fact, life will never look again like it has for the last seven years.
But I don’t know when we’ll come to the surface of this whole thing. When will we not just be floating, but feel our feet on the ground? I have no idea. I hope it’s not too far away cause this weird floating space, watching everyone else live life on shore, isn’t so comfortable. And it’s messy. And I cry a lot. A lot. But this change was necessary. And I fully believe that on the other side of it, or rather through it, I will come to know myself a whole lot better. And I’ll be happier. I’m looking forward to that.