on settling

 

We found ourselves in Magic Kingdom, a little gift courtesy of Christmas and my parents and a trip to Florida for work. We had no expectations, with a tantrum-throwing toddler, an exhausted mama and a not-sure-he-was-ready-for-the-whole-princess-thing dad (though, we managed to escape unscathed by the princesses, with only a stuffed Tigger and a Star Wars book in hand … we rather like this spunky little girl of ours). And it was eponymously magical, and we laughed and rode and spun and flew and sang and watched people get doused on their way down Splash Mountain. We had a delightful time, and then we loaded up our little brown CR-V and traipsed back home, ready.

We got home on a Sunday afternoon, snagged a salad to eat after a week of let’s-not-talk-about-it eating out, and after a family nap and fighting my desire to stay in bed, I headed to the grocery store and bought 2 bunches of kale, lots of sparkling water, and the organic version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch because it exists and it sounded yummy.

When I walked in the door, 7 paper bags full of food richer, Price and Ellie were dancing up a storm, playing piano, and singing like they love to do. I started to make dinner - cod with tomato-herb butter and a massaged kale salad - and Price walked over to me and said, “I’m so happy we’re home. I know we were just at the happiest place on earth, but I love our life here so much.”

I was reading a beautiful post today, written by someone I admire tremendously from afar - the kind of person whose writing makes you want to either never write again or write furiously so you can be maybe a little bit like them one day. And she wrote about how she and her husband are on a journey, a journey that is oh-so-similar to the one we’ve had the last 4 or 5 years. Following God’s call to another city, never quite feeling at home, moving again, buying a house, feeling desperately lonely, selling the house at a loss, and waiting for what’s next. And I was struck so deeply by how our “what’s next” worked out. God was faithful to answer the prayers of his people, to bring us home.

Two weekends ago - before we drove to Florida - I stood up in a high school gymnasium and told a story in front of over 200 people. The audience was made up of leaders from the 4 congregations of the once-little church we called home, when we lived here before. The first time we went to Midtown 12S, it was called “Mercy Hill” and met in a little building on 12th avenue, on the second floor, above the old Las Paletas. I think it’s a yoga studio now. But there were 15, maybe 30 people there? Eventually the church moved to the white building down the street, where we gathered in 1 service with a few hundred folks, and fell into a small group that became family. Then we moved away, and I felt like the Israelites. We wandered, we thirsted, we cried out - and at every turn, God met us with “not yet, but trust me.” We prayed, but not as much as we fought - I wrote friends and asked for help, but not as much as I whined and criticized and doubted. But then it happened, and we got to come home, and we praised God’s faithfulness. And so I stood up in front of the leaders of our church, which has grown to 3 services and hundreds and hundreds of people, and I testified to God’s faithfulness to me, to us, and to our little-now-big church.

Dare I speak it in case it vanishes like smoke, but I feel settled. And settled is good. It has its own challenges, because settled begs me to extend outward because inward I feel a little more comfortable. And I’m finding myriad opportunities to do so, in our church, at work, with friends, and in our new little neighborhood.

My whole life, I wanted to be a traveler. I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to see the world and tell its stories. There have been seasons - even very recently - where I have ached for the unknown again, for setting sail into a different story, but then I look back on the last few years and I see how deeply unsettling it was to be unsettled, and I am grateful for laying these deep roots in this place. To tell its stories. To write my own stories with Price, with Ellie, with our family, with our friends.

I think a lot of writing (mine for certain) biases toward challenges, because isn’t it better and more interesting to struggle? Settled is not without struggle, of course. This steadiness of location is new ground, and it takes time to learn to walk in any new place.

But it is good to testify to the Lord’s faithfulness, because it doesn’t often look the way we expect it to. And if you find yourself in a season of unsettledness, where you aren’t sure where you’re going or you want desperately to go one way and all signs are pointing to the other, I can tell you from experience that there’s a good chance the answer you get will not be what you want. But here’s what I can say, with confidence - great is his faithfulness. Great is his faithfulness. And morning by morning, new mercies you’ll see.

I am grateful for our new mercies, every day, in this green-and-white house, where we are making a new home - a home I pray fervently where the Lord will be pleased to dwell, and where we will testify to his faithfulness every day.

“Come, let us return to the Lord;
    for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
    he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
    on the third day he will raise us up,
    that we may live before him.
Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
    his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
    as the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea 6:1-3