Last Monday night, I found myself walking around downtown Chicago a bit aimlessly.  I had accomplished all I had set out to do, but I didn’t want to get back on the train and make my way home just yet. The city was buzzing with energy as people were out walking their dogs, taking leisurely strolls arm in arm, and jogging, all in their spring clothes. I stayed out until the sun went down and then hopped onto the train to make my way back home.  I’m glad I soaked in those warm sunny moments because by Tuesday the temperature had dropped and by Wednesday Chicago was hit with yet another layer of snow.


Seasons are funny. Though the calendar gives us an approximation of how long they will last, ultimately neither the groundhog nor the meteorologist can give us a true picture of what to expect day to day, week to week, or month to month. Until we are fully experiencing it firsthand, there is simply no telling how short or how long it will be. Some seasons, like this winter in the Midwest for instance, seem unending. Despite the promise of spring that comes from our experience in years past, it is easy to feel as though these cold temperatures will last forever.


I thought my time in Chicago would last forever. If you had asked me two years ago, I would tell you I never intended to leave. Enchanted by the sights and sounds of the city, I couldn’t fathom deserting the place I had come to know as my home, where I had come into my own. Even now, I could hardly imagine a more magical place to live.  Growing into my adulthood here in this beautiful, diverse, urban area has been my dream.  I can’t imagine wanting to have spent the last 9 years anywhere else. But no matter how much I love this city, it couldn’t be more abundantly clear that it is time to go. My excitement for Chicago will never dwindle, but my calling and desire to stay has.


Friends are a lot like family, but friends are not and will never be family. Friendships won’t always last forever; there are too many variables. Proximity, stage of life, and busyness all factor into the state of our relationships. Those we perceived would be there through all the do or die moments can get to the point where they can’t even muster up a text or a call. It only takes a few moves, the births of a couple of babies, and an argument or two and suddenly that thing we thought we’d be holding onto until the end is barely hanging by a thread. Don’t get me wrong; I still have a stronger belief in friendship than just about anyone else you have ever met. Faith and commitment in friendship can still forge a bond that can last if given enough care and attention, but how many friendships like that will we ever even experience in our lives? One, maybe two, five to ten if we are lucky? I’m so fortunate to have formed a couple of such bonds during my time in Chicago. You can believe me. I am in no hurry to let them die, but these are the bonds that will remain whether I stay or go.


I’ve always been an adventurer. Fear at times can hold me back, but I am really the most invigorated when I am doing something new and exciting. Trying new restaurants, seeing new movies, learning new information… Without a novel challenge, it is hard for me to stay motivated. I’ve had a magnificent adventure in Chicago, but I can see now that if I stay, fear would be the only thing keeping me here. Sure, I’m still afraid I won’t find a fulfilling job, make new friends, or feel the sense of home I have developed here over the years. For some people those things might be enough to not make a move, but when I get scared, I just think of sunshine, surf and my sister and suddenly I am not so scared anymore. Every move we make or don’t make requires a sacrifice. Though we have so often been told we can have it all, our mortality reminds us that we can’t and we must make a choice. I’ve sacrificed much to stay in the city that I love and now I am ready to sacrifice the city that I love for a sister I love far more.


I will miss the spanakopita from Artopolis and the cupcakes from Molly’s, the view of the skyline on a nighttime ride on Lake Shore Drive, and the way the city comes alive in the summertime. More than all that, I will miss the friends I have made along the way, the church I have come to love where I began and will now end my journey in Chicago, and the spirit of freedom, independence, and confidence I gained while walking up and down the city streets flooded with music and artwork. Chicago will always hold a special place in my heart, but fortunately for me, I have a heart big enough to hold several places and faces, friends and memories. I know I’ll shed tears when I go, but that is far better than the regret I will feel if I stay.


This season hasn’t been as long as I anticipated it would be, but year after year I keep finding almost nothing is as I anticipate it will be. I am daily surprised, but confident that my future can already been seen by the One who never is…