Thoughts By Natalie

sweet home california.


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The image above of the bear hugging California is an excellent representation of my feelings toward The Golden State, and that’s why I’m bursting at the seams with excitement to tell you that we’re moving back to San Diego!! I know, I know, didn’t we just move to Texas this year? Yes, we did. But I guess when I said “Texas Forever,” what I really meant was, “Texas For-Seven-Months.” My bad.

The reality is, we are thankful to have moved to Austin and thankful to be leaving. If you’re a regular reader, it’s no secret that this has been a challenging season for me, filled with depression, loneliness, and a significant amount of writer’s block. While I love to feel good and happy as often as possible, I wouldn’t trade our brief stint in Texas for anything.

With our upcoming return to the golden coast, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about what this season has taught me and what I want to carry back with me to California. These are the biggest lessons I’ve learned:

Brian and I immediately felt divided when we got to Austin. He was in his comfort zone (he grew up in Texas and went to UT), and I felt more out of place than ever before—Texas is like a foreign country to a California girl! My frustrations with Texas were difficult for him to process, and he even confessed to me that he thought I wasn’t making enough of an effort to get settled. I, in turn, accused him of having absolutely no empathy.

It was lonely enough being far from my comfort zone, but even more so when I felt I didn’t have the support of the person I’m closest to. We eventually realized that the way we were interacting with each other was not sustainable (I was trying to pretend I wasn’t sad; he was focusing too much on work because it was easier than making himself available to listen), and that we needed to be a team who loved and supported each other, even when life wasn’t all cookie-cutter perfect.

My past is a basket full of negative coping mechanisms: overworking, starving myself, emotionally eating, binge drinking. I have a very addictive personality, and have dealt with my pain in tragic ways in the past. This time, however, I’m so thankful that God spared me from that. Sure, it was a lot more painful at the time (negative coping mechanisms have a beautiful way of numbing things…temporarily), but I wouldn’t trade one single crying-induced puffy-faced morning.

Feeling my true feelings was something I needed to learn to do, and this move gave me that opportunity. I felt the depth of my sadness and loneliness in a way I never did before, and it was a beautiful thing to see that it did not consume me. I made it through the storm—I learned how to sail in high winds by practicing gratitude for the small joys of each day.

By far, the best thing about living in Texas has been our Wednesday night small group. Every week, it is my biggest highlight. While I didn’t know any of the people in the group when we started, they immediately welcomed me in with open arms. Our group has such a rare combination of vulnerability, true friendship and genuine interest in knowing Jesus. We often spend way too much time talking at the beginning, but it’s not time wasted. Through it we’ve developed deep friendships and become prayer warriors in each others’ lives.

So often small groups are awkward and forced, but this one was different. We became real friends who cared for each other, grew closer to Jesus together, worked through our marriages together, and actually prayed for each other throughout the week. While I’m truly sad to say goodbye to that special group, I can’t wait to take what I’ve learned from them and create something like it with our San Diego community.

I confess, after spending four years at Pepperdine and another four years post-college in Southern California, I became fairly numb to the beauty and privilege of living by the coast. Now, I realize just how silly I was. Living in Texas has given me brand new perspective. I see now just how much my soul craves the smell of salty sea air, the feeling of sand between my toes, and the refreshing chill that comes with coastal mornings and evenings.

Have you ever made a big life decision, only to return to the way things were before? How did it go?

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  • Lauren
    July 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    oh natalie! so much of this resonates with my one year stint as a colorado resident. I was so sure that I would make a life there, buy a house, settle down, etc. And here I am back in California… And I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I’m sure you and your husband both learned a lot from the experience. embrace it! You can always move back… :)

  • Emily H.
    July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    living in kansas city, i would kill to have a coast i could see every day. i know that even from austin you have to plan when you are going to the beach. sad to hear you are leaving texas (i secretly hoped to meet you whenever i went down there next) but happy to hear you are going back to where you love!

    • Natalie Lynn Borton
      July 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      Thanks Emily! Sorry we never got the chance to meet up in TX, but let me know if you’re ever in San Diego!

  • Pipes
    July 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Beautiful honesty! We are so glad to have you back!

  • Ellie
    July 25, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Natalie, thank you so much for sharing. This resonates so deeply with me. I moved to Colorado a little over a year ago, and thought I’d be here for a while. Now the Lord has me going back to Ohio, which is where I grew up. I’m so unsure of what to expect, but I’ve learned so much about what it means to do life together, and I know that part of going back is to take that back with me.

    • Natalie Lynn Borton
      July 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that you also returning to your roots and that you’ve learned a lot from your experience in Colorado!

  • Gennean
    July 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Woohoo! It really is so wonderful to live in California!! Congrats on the move!

  • Kelsey
    December 27, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    I actually transferred schools this past August. I traded organic and fresh produce for shipped, tasteless produce. Mountain ranges for the flatlands. The Gorgeous Pacific Northwest for brown grass and corn fields. I believed God was opening all the doors to go to this small Christian college in NW Iowa, but when I got there loneliness and heartache surrounded me. College has been quite the journey. I went to school in Seattle for a few years only to feel burned by the Nursing program. I finally get into Nursing school, but with a few setbacks. I would be a plane ride away from home, there are no trees (real NW trees), and there was even a delay at my start time. Thankfully, God did not abandon me. Now I am back home for Christmas break deciding whether transferring home would be a beneficial idea or not. Sometimes it takes being out of our comfort zone for God to break us, mold us, and transform us into the person he has designed us to be.

    • Natalie Lynn Borton
      January 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story! Yes, I agree—getting out of our comfort zone is one of the biggest ways God moves in our lives. Best of luck in deciding how to move forward!

  • Hannah
    October 10, 2014 at 10:24 am

    I know this is an old post, and I just somehow stumbled upon it this morning. But I just wanted to say THANK YOU. My boyfriend and I are in the transition of most likely moving to Texas in the next few months. Let’s just say I’ve been a little less than excited. I live for the beach and can’t imagine living anywhere except California. It has definitely been a strain on our relationship, and honestly, my relationship with God. So thank you for your perspective and willingness to share what your experience taught you. :)

    • Natalie Lynn Borton
      October 10, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post and found it helpful. Texas was a rough season for me, but I trust that it can be something really beautiful for you guys if it’s meant to be! I know plenty of people who have transitioned from California to Texas and couldn’t dream of coming back. Wishing you all the best!