The most frequent question I’m asked is, “Why in the world did you move from New York to Mississippi? Really, Mississippi? From New York? Mississippi to New York? Who does that?” I must admit that is a valid question, especially since I had no friends, family nor job awaiting me here. Today, I chuckle when I’m asked this question, but once upon a time I evaded that question like Wesley Snipes and the IRS. I didn’t know how to answer that question from an honest place without revealing the painful reality of my circumstances. The truth was complex. The story was long. And my new reality was extremely uncomfortable.

Truth is, one day in New York I was driving home from a different direction and saw a house I bought with a husband who was no longer alive and dreams for our future that no longer existed. It wasn’t until that moment I relinquished the shredded reigns of my life to God and finally heard His voice charging me to leave.

I researched many cities, but my heart kept pulling me to research a city in Mississippi that I visited once. I found everything my son and I needed and my heart was at peace with the change. I arrived in Mississippi with a carry-on suitcase, keys to my new house and an expectation for what was next. After a tumultuous year and expedited departure from the place I called home for 18 years, I now stood in unfamiliar territory, surrounded by strangers and overwhelmed by the silence of my trial. My greatest testimony is that I made it out of my personal Egypt alive. I survived the crossing of the Jordan River and now I’m in my promised land, the place that God has prepared for me.

Even though God prepared this place of restoration for me, I had to walk through a tough season so I could be prepared to receive it. Although, truly nothing could have prepared me to walk in the shoes of a 35 year old widow and single parent. There was no manual or Facebook group that could give me tips on walking through the ostracized life of a suicide survivor. However, I realized that if I was going to survive and thrive that I needed to embrace my journey. Part of embracing my journey was discovering all the things that I was gaining in my new place and not festering in what I lost.

For starters, Mississippi has better barbecue and I love good barbecue. Thankfully, there is a BBQ restaurant on every corner. I discovered that if you want to eat from the good of the land, you have to get to the land. You cannot eat the fruit of your ‘promised land’ from Egypt. While moving and starting over was difficult, it was not impossible because I was in the will of God. Secondly, Mississippians are so much nicer than New Yorkers. No offense, but from birth, southern children are taught to say ma’am and sir. Everyone says hello, smiles and will carry on a conversation with you at the local Walmart. When you move out of your comfort zone, you will be exposed to new people. There were people that had been praying for me to walk into their lives. Like my new husband and the people who would be encouraged by my testimony of survival.

Finally, there are no concrete backyards in Mississippi, unlike in New York. Even though I don’t have a green thumb, I love to plant beautiful flowers around my home. I learned that leaving my comfort zone was not just about relocation, it was also about growth. Goldfish can only grow to the size of its container. Sometimes you can outgrow your job, your relationships, your church and even your gift if you are in the wrong place. Your gift(s) are designed to fulfill your purpose. If you are in a place where you are not fulfilling your purpose, you may have to go so you can grow.

Leaving New York to relocate to Mississippi during the most difficult time of my life was challenging but mostly rewarding. Change can be painful, but it can also bring beautiful new beginnings.

Athena, 42
Olive Branch, MS

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