Want to know what my favourite thing about blogging is? It’s having a record of all of the thoughts and emotions around each particular season. It’s being able to look back and realize how much God was preparing or how naive our thoughts were or how ridiculous what we thought ‘hard’ looked like at any given time. I started this blog as a christian girl on a journey and today I’m just the same. A christian girl on that same journey. More years behind me, yes, but still questioning, wondering, relying, pondering, and leaning on Christ for all.
I pulled the following post up out of the drafts folder. I wrote it more than 2 years ago and it makes me laugh in some ways and makes me weep in others. Most of all it makes me realize that I have so much to learn still. Always.
I’m posting it for you today because it journeys you through some of our life and much of my naiveté about life. Happy reading!
We’ve had the oh-my-goodness-i’m-pregnant years followed by the all-i-do-is-change-diapers decade. Somewhere in the midst of that was the God-flipped-us-on-our-heads period which included, but was not limited to, the why-didn’t-we-know-this-before season.
We’ve followed Christ through marital crisis, harsh pregnancies, loss of a parent, and family that moved across the globe (also for the sake of following God). We’ve followed him by leaving a job which brought in oodles of cash and the beloved bonus for quarter time pay and full time hours. We’ve sold our home to live in an unfinished basement that we didn’t pay a penny for (because, hello! Quarter time hours, duh!) so that we could pour ourselves into sharing Christ and serving his bride. We had 3 children, no oven and a kitchen/living room/bedroom combo that all existed in one tiny space. We simply pulled a curtain when we wanted to sleep.
To say these were some of the greatest years of our lives sounds foolish, I know. But these were some of the greatest years of our life.
We followed God’s leading to a new church and a new living space (all 1,000 sq. ft of it! It even had an oven!) We would sit on our balcony and watch the locals shoot up in the alley and our hearts would break when we’d see a young girl get dropped off in the parking lot by a car full of men in the wee hours on a Sunday morning. But these were our neighbours.
I played with my kids in a park that many called home and time and time again we were warned that this park wasn’t actually for children. That we should be careful. That we should watch out for needles. I’ve never prayed so much while my children giggled and ran and slid down the slide, oblivious to the fact that there was anything strange about where they were playing. You mean, men with sleeping bags don’t play at your park?
We weren’t exactly on the beautiful side of the tracks and our views weren’t what you’d choose from a real estate brochure but we knew we were home.
I don’t live well within the veiled. The happiness and cheer of picket fences and manicured lawns make me feel like people are hiding something. I get suspicious of smiles too big and waves too perky.
I found my place among the broken. Among the misfits. Those rejected from society and making their life’s journey by illegal means. Our neighbourhood was a smattering of drugs and homelessness. Our neighbours were often strung out or selling themselves. I could smile and wave here because I knew these people, they weren’t hiding anything. There’s an incredible beauty that comes from rawness. Honesty. Vulnerability. I liked that, what you saw was what you got, thing. No pretense. No hiding. No facade of perfection or happiness.
It was here that I could be just as real, among the broken that I could share my own brokenness.
It’s so much harder to be real when everyone around you looks so dang good.
Time and change and Christ himself moved us again. He never lets us settle for long, does He? This time it was a huge house in the suburbs and life with family who had just lost their spouse.
We traded in the fear of needles in the park to the luxury of a fenced backyard with a bedroom for everyone.
But even here God was challenging us. Even here we were growing. We learned what it was like to live in community. We learned how it feels to care for a grieving widow. We learned the good’s and the bad’s of living with family and we relied on God in all of it.
I promise you, no one can prepare you for this stuff. No one could have told us as newlyweds where life would lead. Had they we may have bailed on all of it a long time ago. This following God thing is not for the faint of heart! But looking back I’m so thankful that God has led us to so many different places. We’ve lived in and through many circumstances and in each one we knew that He was with us. In each one, we knew that He was the one providing. In each one, we knew that He was teaching and preparing for whatever may be next.
It seems a bit odd, just now, in the season of life God has us. When you’ve had your world flipped and you’ve learned how to survive on next to nothing and you’ve had sex trade workers as neighbours and you’ve shared your space and lost your dad and walked with friends through adultery and gluttony and pride and premarital sex and impatience and questioning God on all sides, well, life feels a bit quiet just now.
We proclaim, in the midst of the wearisome, that we can’t wait for it to all end, but then when it actually does we’re not quite sure what to do with ourselves.
So, God has moved us again and we live in a beautiful home with a gorgeous view and it’s all very suburban and lovely, but part of us is missing the chaos of Saturday night fights after the bar below us closes and not having to impress upon our children the importance of never ever ever picking anything up off of the ground. It’s so clean here in these parts. So sterile.
We know we should be thankful for the season of rest. For the time to pour into our children and family. For the season of immersing ourselves in the study of his word and taking the time to breathe big breaths and walk slow walks and soak up the gifts and proclaim gratitude for it all.
But truth be told, I’m starting to feel a bit restless. A bit itchy under the ironed collar of double car garages and cherry blossomed yards. Because, while lovely, while rejuvenating, while glorious to behold, they don’t require much. They don’t grow me or challenge me or push me out of my place of comfort. They don’t yank me up from my armchair by the fire and have me on my knees. They don’t pry the coffee cup from my hand or the pillow from beneath my head and make me feel the discomfort of looking brokenness in the face and loving because you know what broken feels like. The big yards and the yapping dogs don’t make me yearn for heaven the way that people do. The way that hurting and challenging and confrontational people do. These homes and the view, they don’t wake me up in the middle of the night. They don’t have my mind reeling. They don’t make me feel like I can’t take one step out onto the streets without prayer.
We don’t know what God has for us here but we know that He has us here and so we live. We pray. We go about our days, continually emptying them of ourselves so that we have all the room in the world for Him and His purposes. We don’t know what they are just now but we’re preparing our hearts before Him and we’re continually laying our selfish desires for much before Him and we’re awaiting whatever He has next for us.
They say a calm always comes before a storm. It’s calm here just now.