A Stranger….. and Yet, Belonging

Taking risks

 

It is a funny thing that you can be a part of a culture or group that adamantly proclaims that it is “you” and yet feel very ostracized because it doesn’t reflect the very “core” of who you are. And then life does a 180 degree turn and you find yourself in a new place and culture that could potentially be threatening and reject you. Now you are a minority in the workplace. You have different speech patterns, different ways of looking at things, and of course, you are different because your belief and walk with God shapes the very essence of who you are and where you are going. (Or at least your belief in God was the factor that always ostracized you in your previous culture since you weren’t allowed to talk about it in the workplace and at times got rejected by social groups for it). Shouldn’t you be so far out of your comfort zone that you long to go back to what you once knew and the precarious “acceptance’ in the former group you once had?

 
But what if instead, everywhere in your new culture there were affirmations that you belong and this is where you were meant to be until you had fulfilled your purpose there? What if the people in your workplace that look somewhat different from you and have a different culture from you say, “Stay, you are one of us?” What if new neighbors and workers stream through your new living place and tell you that they want you to stay and they’re so happy you came to live among them? And most of all, what if your supervisors, coworkers, and visiting agency workers all speak openly to you of their walk with God and how it determines why they serve other people with their whole hearts?

 
Would you stay? What is this crazy place and who are these people you’ve come to live among? By the world’s standards you shouldn’t be any more comfortable. But you’ve found freedom. You’ve found freedom to be who you are as a Christian and not feel pressure to hide it. You found freedom from heavy taxation and regulation burdens. You found freedom from a Governor who tells “all your kind” to leave the state. And you found diversity, which you longed for, because only in diversity can you truly appreciate the array of humanity and the array of characteristics in yourself.

 
Perhaps you will stay. After all……it was a huge risk that is seeming to pay off well. No, you will stay because God orchestrated every last detail of your move, right down to giving you and your family the idea to begin with. He spent time on the details, giving you a piece of land that was very specific to your needs, at a discounted price, and with even the soil laid out so specifically that it defies logic. The details extend to how he provided a job where you were given less stress, greater pay, diversity, more freedom, and very specific supervisors and coworkers.

 
This is how God works in our lives. His ways are so far above our own, that often the things we would pick for ourselves are not truly what we want or need. He knows us so well that He will provide the opposite of what we thought we needed and it turns out to open up a whole new world of interest and purpose. We are all sojourners on this earth, only here for a short time. But if we commit our lives to God, then we can rest assured that even though life will be tough and trying, we will find true purpose, freedom, and membership in a place that we belong.

Feeling Uncomfortably Alive

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I want to slip back. After an entire year of not living in permanency I was just given the news this morning that it will be many more months before I attain that desired status again. My heart became heavy with disappointment and I mentally began thinking about all the anticipated settling in and visitors that I had my heart set on. I slipped into the shower and began to bemoan my situation. As is often the case when I’m in the shower I hear God’s voice. You do too. Perhaps it’s the fact that the water shuts out the world and the steady patter of “head noise” is drowned out. “You’re okay,” God said, “you have everything you need.” “I suppose you’re right,” I reluctantly agreed, “but I need to be in my own space with my life and possessions nicely settled around me.” “Why?” God said.
Yes…..why?
You see my life has never been static and since I turned 40 a decade ago my life has been a steady series of somersaults. I began to embrace those changes and recognize that the more I took risks, pushed myself to try new things, went new places, and met new people, I was a more “alive” person. I also began to discover who I was created to be and what my purpose on earth was to be. And in doing so, I learned to put myself aside more and become insanely curious and empathetic towards others. Do not be fooled, however, into thinking that this was a beautiful, creative surge forward. ┬áIt was often stunted and ugly and marred by the nature of my humanity.
But I want to slip back. It feels so good nestled inside that warm hoodie that comforts me and feels the “same.” Why does my soul yearn for sameness? Because it means that things are constant, easy, and without much thought or intention. God does not want me there. It is “there” that I am useless to Him. Only when I am “outside of me” is He able to get my attention and begin piecing the fabric of me into a dynamic and beautiful quilt that can warm and inspire other human beings.
In a few months, I will be “nesting” in my new home. God will not deny me that because He loves me with an incomprehensible love. But my real home is being prepared now with Him in His heavens. I am never to get comfortable here on this earth. God will see to that. Just when I begin to slip back into sameness……He will send fireworks……..and I will become alert and useful again.

 

I Want My Name to Be Remembered…..

I went to a 3-hour ethics seminar and arrived to find that my name wasn’t on any of their rosters. They looked under “G” and they looked under “N” but it wasn’t there. This meant that I would not receive a professionally printed certificate of completion which I need to keep my licensure. This bothered me quite a bit more than I would have thought. I registered for the event; sent in all the right information; jumped through all the right hoops; completed all the right works. Why in the world did it irritate me when I still got the information I needed and received a handwritten, albeit messy, certificate with my name on it?

 
Later it dawned on me that I wanted my name and actions to matter. In the long term this event holds little importance. But what DOES matter is that my name is written in the Book of Life. Do I have to register for it, jump through hoops, send in money? No, my name is already written there for I accepted an invitation from a loving God. He will walk with me as I live my life and work with me to learn the things that are important for me to know. But it can’t be taken away. My name IS important and it is written in the most important of rosters. And this I can rest in.

 

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Busy-ness

How often do we ask someone how they are and the reply is “busy!” This is usually said with a great deal of pride and anticipation that you will think they are very important people. “Busy” has become a status symbol in our culture. A couple of times I’ve responded to this with, “I’m sorry,” only to see their expression turn to confusion because I wasn’t validating their value for busyness. Slow down. Invest in relationships. At some point in your life all the frantic activity will cease and as you lay there reflecting back on your long life, you will not wish you had been busier…….but that you had spent more time with people you love and value. Now go be un-busy today!

Busyness