June 17, 2017

Home Feels So Right!

My trip to Indiana is over, and I am at home and feeling so fine. Yes, I am so happy to be home. I have to say that I have gotten really comfortable traveling, despite the fact that I don’t do well (physically) when I leave home. The trip, for the most part, was worth the expense and time invested. My parents are happy to be home as well, and all the business we needed to address was taken care of in good order. The flight home was uneventful, albeit, a long day and long flight, but we made it home in one piece. My son was waiting at the airport for us, and after we arrived home, we spent some time together over pizza before doing what we normally do — go our own way. My son retreated to his bedroom to work on music, Mom turned on the TV, Dad checked his email, and I unpacked before making the decision to turn in to bed. I didn’t do much at all, but I did get myself organized before turning off the light.

Morning came really early for me. I woke up at 6:45, still a bit fuzzy from my jet lag. My head ached, as strange as that may seem, but I knew immediately that I was in AZ because my hot flashes returned, my sinuses pounded, and my throat was dry as a bone. Yep, I was home, and I felt the lower humidity, and the pressure change that always plays havoc with my head.

Moreover, the little boys were well cared for by my son. He did a super job with the house, and he took care of their needs, including giving them lots of love. I love that boy! He is such a joy to me (thank you, Jesus!)

In all, the whole week was a good experience for us all. I realized that I could leave my “life” in the capable hands of my son and not worry about the details. I realized that my parents are not able to travel anymore — even with my help — and that they simply need to remain where they are for the duration of their days. I realized that I could navigate country roads without much fuss, and that I could even learn how to pass Amish buggies without startling their horses (yay!)

More so, I learned that I love the country life — all of it — and that while the Internet was slow at the hotel, I was able to do my school work. I really came to appreciate small town life, and I really invested myself in the experience — chatting with people, living openly, and being friendly — rather than living in isolation all the time. In short, I learned that there is a lot of life out there, but only if you are willing to invest yourself in the process of living it.

In truth, I went to Indiana thinking I would just chauffeur my folks around, but really I ended up letting go and listening to the stories and the history of the place I was visiting. It was a wonderful time of relaxation and rest. I really did rest even though I was up early every day and on the move.

God showed me something wonderful about myself in this short trip to the Midwest. First, He showed me that I was more midwestern than I believed. I am cut from the same farm stock as my cousins, and I am similar in personality, temperament, and outlook to the good folks I met in Bluffton, Markle, and Warren, IN.

Second, He showed me that I love farm towns, and I love the landscape as well as the old fashioned homes that dot the countryside. I also love the green, the trees, and all the clouds that float in and out.

Third, He showed me that I “fit” here well. I mean, I can easily “fit” in with these people. Nine out of ten people I met were Christian, churchgoing people. Even those that were not overtly religious had enough of an upbringing to respect the folks that are more religious. I didn’t sense any hostility, any aggression, or even any hatred toward outsiders (often the claim made by liberals). The people I met were kind to everyone — regardless of their faith or lack thereof — as well as their gender or orientation. They were simply good and kind people.

Fourth, He showed me that I could live in a place like this, whether rural, town or city, and be happy. I saw homes that were modest and homes that were grand, and I saw many in-between styles. I also observed life, how people in these small towns lived, and while many might think the “slowness” is boring, I simply saw a blessed pace that wasn’t rushed, hurried, or hard pressed. I saw people taking their time, enjoying their time, and mostly, going about their business in ordinary ways. It was nice to see life at a slower speed.

Last, He showed me that there is beauty in this type of life. I don’t mean outwardly because there is no comparison to the landscape (with the red and white barns and carefully mowed lawns). I just mean that there is beauty in God’s creation, from livestock and horses, to flowers in pots, and the wild animals that dot the landscape, there is testimony to His goodness all around. There was not a time that I said, “Oh, that is not nice to look at” because everything I saw, even the run-down, broken-down, or cast off, had value. There was value in the barn that looked like it was going to blow over simply because of its age, its history, and its purpose. I saw value in the land, value in the people, and value in the way of life that many in these small farm towns and communities work hard to preserve. Sure, I have rose-colored glasses on. There is an underbelly to every place, and there were many stories of greed, mistrust, and lawless deeds. Yet, overall, I saw the beauty instead of the grossness, and in that way, I came to appreciate this place for what it is — a community of people — many of whom love and serve the Lord. It was a good thing.

As I process my week’s visit, I have come to this place of deeper understanding. I have come to understand that God calls us to live in community, and community can be anywhere and anyplace. It can be formed in villages, towns, and cities, but it also is formed in activities, groups, and shared interests. From quilting to woodworking to canning and to farming, there is community, there is life. I  came to see how valuable life is when it is lived in community. Living all alone, isolated, and distanced from friends and family is not a good thing. This is why God said that it is not good for man to live alone. It is not good for men to be without women, and vice versa, but also it is not good for people to live like hermits. We were created to live in harmony and unity with one another (Ps. 133), and God intends for us to live in community, to be a part of a group of people who share one thing in common over all the rest, and that is a sincere and devoted love for the Lord and for the people God has joined together in His family.

I tend to live in isolation, and often I complain about living in my small space, my little room. I realized this week that I could choose my level of interaction. For example, when my aunt was visiting with my parents, while I had some work to do on the computer, I chose to do what I needed to do so I could close my laptop and visit with her. I stopped my usual “always on” approach to take the time to visit with my 88-year old aunt. I enjoyed her company immensely, and I found the time spent to be blessed. In this way, I learned that it is a choice to isolate yourself from the world, from community, and that busyness can be a crutch regardless of where you live. I live in a busy metropolis, yet I use this excuse just as easily as someone who might live in a small village. Busyness knows no boundaries, thus it is important to fight against it. It is important to live in moderation, to live in balance.

I guess this week really showed me that while the Lord may provide me with a lot of work, busy work, He intends for me to not live alone, in isolation, but rather to live in balance. I will work heartily unto the Lord, but I will also live graciously and fully immersed in community. There needs to be balance, and with balance comes blessing. Yes, there is blessing in being balanced.

My comprehension this week has proven valuable to me because now I understand what the Lord meant when He said to me that I would live a moderate life. I assumed He meant moderate as in price or income or style of living, when I believe He meant moderate as in balanced. I see now that He was saying to me that I was not to live as I am at present — in a family but not connected to a family. I am to live fully engaged, fully immersed, and fully active in family, in community, and in this way, I am to live as a believer in Christ among fellow believers in Christ. It is all about community. It is all about living communally, and about living committed lives as testimony to the Lord.

In closing, this week has helped me see that much of what I believed the Lord was saying to me was true. Not that He was telling me untruth, I just mean that what I gleaned was truth. I have come to see how the pattern of my life over the past many years has been bent toward isolation. My ex-husband was an isolationist, and he never wanted to engage with people in community unless there was profit associated with it. His time was meant for making money, so the idea of spending time with friends and family always took a back seat to his time bent on income opportunities.

As such, I learned to live alone, to spend time by myself, and while I was used to being alone (as a child and teen), I never realized that living alone was something I learned rather than something I was born to do. You see, I always have been comfortable as a single person, as someone who lives solitary. Yet, I came to see that this was not God’s design. Despite being an introvert, and despite the fact that my INTJ personality prefers quietude to noise, God didn’t make me a hermit. He didn’t create me to live alone. No, rather, He created me to be a part of a family, His family, and He gave me an earthly family to surround me with joy and comfort. My family didn’t always provide that to me, and as a child, I often was left on my own as a result. I came to accept aloneness as a condition, as a reality, when in truth it was simply the circumstances of my early life.

Now, though, I am an adult. I am a mature believer in Christ, and the Lord is saying to me that while this may have been my childhood experience, it is not His design for my current and future life. He is not calling me to isolation, but to community, and in this way, I must realize that I have to choose to engage with life rather than withdraw from it. I must put myself “out there,” even if I may feel uncomfortable doing it, and in return, He will help me be more active, more invested, and more dedicated to relationship building and to developing community through my presence and my participation.

God intends for His people to be a people of passion, participation, and pursuit of the things He holds most dear — including but not limited to community. God intends us to be fully action-oriented, fully engaged, and fully willing to belong to His family. We are to serve one another, to love one another, and in this way, we will show the world that the people of God are filled with love — His love — for the lost, the dying, and the marginalized and disenfranchised. We are to love the people He died to save, and the only way to love people is to get to know them, to really know them, and the only way to get to know them is to spend time with them. It is not rocket science, really — it is just common sense. God is good, you know. He is so very good!

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