Five years ago today I moved a couple of hundred miles west into a new time zone and began to make Nashville my home. That first night in my basement apartment off of West End feels like yesterday. I think about how seasons of Gilmore Girls got me through those first few days of only knowing a couple of people in this big town.

As I was driving downtown this morning for a fitness class I think about the changes over those five years of being in Nashville. How one year ago today I lost the job that brought me to this city, another chapter on my life (and career) closing. I think about the relationships I have begun and ended, both romantic and friendly in that time. I think on who I was when I moved here at 29 and who I am at 34…the growth in every aspect of my life as well as the broad range of experiences that being in Nashville has afforded me.

In five years in Music City I can most assuredly say this place has changed me, and I am better for it. I finally stopped accepting less than in my life and started pursuing more than I can fathom. I stopped believing it was in my power and left it with God (that’s an ongoing thing). I valued friendships above selfish gain and realized that one’s wellbeing is in one’s power to care for.

Five years has shown me so much in Nashville and beyond. It’s given me the opportunity to pursue a new call and purpose for my life, afforded me the benefit of great mentors to learn from in this new pursuit, and shown me that the truest people of your life will stand with you when you cannot hold yourself up anymore. Oddly enough, five years ago I questioned my decision to move to Nashville as I sat among boxes in my new apartment. It’s been a decision I have often questioned over the last five years as well, and one I have dwelt upon over this last year in quiet with God.

I have wrestled in this last year, as this day inched closer knowing it also meant it had been one year since I lost the job that brought me to Nashville. Questioning God’s hand in a situation and circumstance became my banner for a couple of months, and then I turned to seeking what He’d have me pursue in bringing me to this place. While I don’t see it fully, I do know that He lead me here by His doing, and He keeps me here by His hand steadying me along the path He desires for my life. It’s when I attempt to go outside those bounds that He gently guides me back, reminding me the doubt I had five years ago and the control I had to let go of in these moments.

So I celebrate five years of Nashville today, looking at photos of friends made and kept…amazing people I have gotten to know and walk alongside…students I have gotten to see become friends…places that hold dear memories and relished friendships. I think about all the people I count as friend today, that five years ago I did not know, the people still to meet, and the stories still to be written for me in Nashville. I celebrate the breath this city brings into my heart and the joy of the ones whom I hope with. They are the rocks to my roll.