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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Home is where you are.

I was thinking about the different places people live and how at times we judge someone based on where they live.

I currently live in a planned community with a Homeowner's Association (HOA) and convenient access to the freeway. Where I would like to live is in a Mediterranean-style home with an inside courtyard in a quiet neighborhood with mature plants and clean, whispering air. Palm trees would be wonderful. We've had many opportunities to move but feel there is more "work" to be done where we are.

Driving home recently from an appointment, I got the impression once again there is more work to be done in the place where we live. I have no clue what work, but God has planted me here for some purpose to reach some person and do some thing.

The culture I live in seems obsessed with stories of people who change their lives dramatically by use of force or will or ingenuity. These are commendable feats, of course, because they give a glimmer of the capabilities of the human whole. But we sometimes compare any other type of effort to be flawed or weak or lesser than. Yes, there is something to be said for making things happen in your life. But there is also a power in releasing all control to heed the plan of the God who has the eagle's view.

A few years ago, my preschool-aged foster son was invited to a birthday party. The Saturday morning of the party came and we drove to a part of town I hadn't spent much time in before then. I looked for the address, driving up and down the street, confused by the commercial zone. And then we came upon a broken house. It was old and run-down, the roof, yard, walls, doors, garage, everything seemed in great disrepair.

"Someone lives here??" I thought. Or maybe I actually said it aloud.

The house number matched the one on the invitation so I pulled up the gravel driveway. My boy and I walked up to the door, me still wondering if truly this was the place. I was greeted by a very happy dad and the house was decorated in dinosaur-theme paper. Sho-nuff.

This was a very happy family, with a very happy celebration for their son's birthday. I stayed the whole time and did my best to avoid staring at the cracked walls. I remember the dining room had been converted into a bedroom; I had to walk through it to find the bathroom. I marveled at this rundown home in the middle of a city that was known for beautiful neighborhoods. I had never driven through this area and noticed this old house before.

Why did the family live here? How does a family end up here?

Partway through the party, I remembered that because of my son's "foster child" status, he was attending a pre-school normally attended by children in poverty. I suddenly felt like I had to stay undercover so as not to embarrass anyone. Of course, I didn't have to, but I suddenly felt like I did not belong there and didn't want anyone to discover that. I wondered how many of the other kids present lived in homes similar to this one.

Interestingly, I know there are people who feel a similar sense of confusion and sympathy about where I live, finding something about it undesirable: its proximity to shopping and the interstate, its small lots, its community bylaws and policies. But I know it is where my husband and I were called to move and it is where we still feel called to serve. We certainly are not the only ones who get these types promptings, but I forget that sometimes. The family in the old cracked house likely had a similar personal experience to move to a place in the middle of a commercial zone.

About a month ago, I drove through that area on my way home from a restaurant. The house had been demolished and cleared off that space of land. I wonder where the family went and if they are now in a better position. Of course, that is my ego speaking. They are wherever it is that God has work for them to do.


Brandi said...

From 5th grade to my junior year of high school we lived in a VERY affluent area of Connecticut just outside of New York City. Affluent, as in celebrities lived there.

We were not wealthy. Not even close. We lived in a duplex in the worst part of town. In any other town, it would be considered a perfectly nice place to live in a perfectly nice area, but in this town, it was considered "the ghetto."

I had a party once in 6th grade. My closest friends knew I lived there and didn't care, but some less close friends came, and it was the first time they'd been there.

The ONLY real memory I have of that party is one of the girls saying as she came in, "We kept driving back and forth past the house because we didn't think anyone could possibly live here." (The paint was peeling, which makes a place as good as condemned there).

I don't really have a point with that story. Your story just really reminded me of it. :)

BUT, as for feeling called to live somewhere, half way through my junior year of high school, my parents decided we were going to move from that affluent town in CT to Evanston, WY. It was completely out of the blue. My mother had stopped there for lunch on her way to California once in her teens. She remembered it and decided we needed to move there. There just happened to be job openings for both of my parents. So we went. And I hated them for making me leave my friends and civilization to live in a back water like Wyoming when I was 16.

But, I met my husband there and was introduced to the church there.
Without either of those things, my life would be completely different today.

So, when my mother says she just "felt" that we should move there, I now understand.

(Sorry for the novel length comment).

Adhis said...

Brandi, thank you for sharing. There are many wonderful stories for me to learn from in your comment.

Heather said...

Great story. Sometimes I wonder what brought us here too. But everytime the subject of moving comes up we start thinking about all he great people here and decided we need to stay. I love our loop.

Kat said...

I love your little story. There truly is a time and a season for everything. We loved living in our little home with lots of close friends but when we felt like we needed to move and start a new part of life, we did. And we have been completely blessed for it. I know that the person or people that you are suppose to be there for will be completely blessed because of you and you listening to promptings. Love you!

Kristen said...

It can be hard to not only accept promptings, but to embrace them. But you seem to be doing just that. Well done.

I think your neighborhood is wonderful. There are much worse places you could be "called" to! =o)

Ever since I was little, I noticed an old house in our town. Kind of broken down but I always dreamed of living there. I was intrigued by it. About a year ago a friend recently lost their home and "had" to move into that house. She was embarrassed and horrified. I told her how I'd always dreamed of living there. She was shocked! She started bawling. And you should see the place now. They have turned it into a gem. I'd like to take credit for how amazing it looks now but I didn't lift a finger. HAHA. It's all in our perspective though.