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Monday, October 16, 2017

Temporary Homes


“When you enter a town or village, don’t insist on staying in a luxury inn. Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until you leave” (Matthew 10:11, TM).

Well… ouch…

I’m not complaining, but…

There’s a saying that goes something like this:  If you say something that sounds derogatory and then say, “But;” your first statement is probably a lie.

After cramming seven people into a one bedroom apartment (first part time for a year and then full time for a couple of months), you would think any home with more than 1,000 square feet would have felt like a palace.  And this one did… for about two days…

When the spiders and flies came out, I suddenly remembered every house has its flaws.

When the dryer could not be connected for over a month, and I had to take my laundry to my mother-in-law’s basement (at age 38); and then the Internet wouldn’t work at all; and then the DirectTV guy had to spend so many hours at our house he asked if he could just move in; and then when the Internet guy finally did come, and we realized “high speed” is something that just doesn’t happen here… I started to complain.

I actually thought to myself, “I’m not complaining, but…” and then I just got honest.  I’m complaining.

Why?

I like this community.  I love these people.  I spent a good number of my childhood years growing up in ‘the country’ and have often wished my children could have this experience.  My job is great.  Somehow, I’m still managing to connect with people in the wider world of theological conversation.  My kids are awesome.  We actually have way more stuff than we need.  We’re not hungry… ever.  And we even recently found an excellent sale on memory foam tennis shoes and fuzzy winter flip flops.  What the heck is wrong with me?

I think it might be human nature to lack contentment, and even though we are human; it might be better to let this one go.

So, how does this relate to Ministry Monday?

Well, the truth is that ministry is most often a moving vocation.  A few people manage to stay somewhere for 20-30 years, but the vast majority of us have moved more times than we ever could have imagined.  And the imagination is a powerful thing.  I’m complaining, because life didn’t turn out the way I thought it might… the way I hoped it might...  So even though life is pretty good, right now, I continue to mourn the life I’d envisioned.  Is there space for that?  I think there has to be.

I spent decades looking for stability, and the irony is that finally embracing the temporary nature of my circumstances and existence is what brought about some sense of peace.

Is this going to last forever?  Nope.  It might get better.  And, let’s face it, it might get worse.  But I have learned that I can count on the fact that a year from now I will not be where I think I’ll be, and I will not be doing what I think I’ll be doing.  If I think about it for too long, I’ll get frustrated all over again, but I have to admit there is something comforting in knowing that anything I could possibly plan will not go the way I envision it.  It takes some of the pressure off.

I don’t know if that qualifies as contentment, but it’s a start…

L.

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