|(photo by Jim Garringer)|
Upland. Four square miles. No stoplight. Really, less a town in the middle of cornfields than a cornfield with a few buildings in between the stalks. The dictionary definition of a Christian bubble. We told ourselves that we'd try it for three years, and then maybe move on (like back to the mountains, and the oceans, and the downtowns).
(At new faculty orientation, they told us that's what all the incoming faculty say, and then they all stay here forever. We laughed nervously.)
This summer we've decided to try to buy a house. A hundred year old bungalow, a place with a little land. A place that will need some work - that will require investment. A place where we'll plant trees. Where we will put down roots.
I've never been one for roots. And although this decision to stay feels right to me, this week it's been throwing me for an existential loop along the lines of "We are all going to die one day! What are we doing with our lives?!" I'm all set to tap-dance out of here looking for a newer, bigger, better adventure.
It sounds silly, but I'm serious. Life is short, and is this the right way to spend it? In a small town in middle America, raising two kids, teaching ESL to rich international students? Remodeling an old farmhouse, growing blueberries and corn, swimming at the lake every day with our friends? Experimenting with more sustainable ways of living, reading a lot of books, watching too much tv? It sounds like a pleasant life, but is it a well-stewarded life?
It isn't exactly how I envisioned my life. For a girl who was raised on Amy Carmichael and told to do "big things" for God, to change the world, somehow saving the My Little Ponies from the (invisible) monsters every single day just doesn't feel quite as meaningful as saving child prostitutes in another country.
No matter how much I know in my head that there is no sacred/secular divide - that God is as present in the changing of the diapers as in the changing of evil regimes - that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first - I have to work, hard, every day to reorient myself to the realities of this upside down kingdom.
But at the same time - even while I learn to value the quotidian mysteries of faith and life - I do believe it's right to question my assumptions. It's fair to ask if this is where we belong, and if this is the best way to steward our gifts. Is my restlessness a selfish restlessness, or a holy restlessness? Am I valuing comfort and safety more than I should be?
Amy Carmichael wrote, "Verily, the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul," and I don't want to totally quiet the voice that tells me not to get too comfortable here.
Growing rooted, but staying open. How do I do it?