Prone to climb: Making sense of the in between

phonto
I was talking with three friends that I’ve known for years. We were in a building I had been in less than four times, surrounded by people I don’t know for the launch of a church that didn’t exist a year ago. The juxtaposition of the old and the new mirrored much of our conversation.

One of my friends shared how this season of life–moving across the country, working in a church start-up, looking for new jobs, establishing new community–has been…interesting. Lots of really high highs, and lots of really low lows. Lots of tiring days but lots of incredibly fulfilling work. Lots of finding our way in a strange and unfamiliar land, but lots of discovery and exploration and delight in doing so.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this weird space–this in between, though that hardly captures the sentiment entirely. It’s the place where life is both really great and really challenging. Where you’re enamored by completely new surroundings and longing for the familiarity of the old. Where life’s a ball and life’s a drag at the same time.

What do we do in this space? What do we make of it?

As I look back, I can see several points in life where I’ve walked through this in between space before, though my less enlightened brain hardly caught the irony at the time. The excitement of finishing high school and the unknown land of college. The pain of death and the peace of wholeness on the other side of Glory.

And then I look to Scripture. Abraham had the promise from God, but he had to wait 25 years to see it fulfilled. Noah had the clear direction to build the ark, but he also had the detractors. Jesus had the crowd, but he also had the critics.

Maybe that’s life, and maybe it’s not as black and white as we would like it to be. It’s a mix of both: the good and the bad, the challenging and the rewarding, the easy and the hard, the joyous and the painful. And maybe we can’t compartmentalize those things as much as we would like (or as much as I would like). Perhaps it’s less peaks-and-valleys and more hikes along the slope, casually drifting between climb and descent, knowing that you can’t have one without the other.

It’s hard to process both simultaneously. Most of us want the black or the white–not both. Not together.

But here we sit. In the in between.

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Prone to mourn: When greatness falls

A very good man died recently.

This is likely one of the most obvious and self-evident things I’ve ever written, since good people die all the time. But it’s remarkable when it’s a good person that you know.

I’ve written about death before, and I’ve been searching for a way to write about this one since I heard about it last weekend. There are lots of things that stink about loosing people, but sometimes, loosing great people is hard because we lose a real-life example of greatness, and those examples feel more and more scarce.

When we look at truly great people, we see our own inadequacies. We see an example to follow and we see our betters. Something to aim for. Teaching my 7th graders last year, I explained it this way: when you play video games against someone really good, you recognize how bad of a player you are.

But here’s the thing: great people inherently don’t leave us lamenting our own inadequacies. Because truly great people know their own humanness, their own flaws, and want nothing more than to point others to the Redemption they’ve found.

That’s what Mr. Pearman did.

A pastor and a prisoner of war who fought in Korea, Mr. Pearman was no stranger to tragedy during his life, but he always carried a smile and a warm, manly hug whether he was seeing an old friend or meeting a new one. He was a confidant to my pastor and a friend to my family–two traits I am grateful for. He loved his family, his church, and his Lord.

He was one of those people I wish I had gotten to know more while I had the chance–a lesson I’ll evidently never learn well enough to put into practice.

He was a great person. A very good man. He left a solid example for those of us who knew him. The world is worse because he’s gone but better because he was here.

But he wasn’t perfect. He was a Tennessee fan, after all.

Prone to give: Rethinking generosity

As I mentioned in my last post, there are countless things I’ve learned and observed and thought about connected to this move to Denver. One that I keep reflecting on is kindness and generosity.

I don’t relish the position of being in need. My fiercely independent, self-reliant, obsessive achiever personality would much rather carry my own burdens with time and effort to spare and share with others. But my meager abilities were no match for the mental, physical, and emotional work of making this move happen.

Thankfully, I have family and friends who helped.

Admittedly, their expressions of generosity might seem trivial to some. But in this stressful season (which I SEVERELY underestimated), they are monumental acts that I am grateful for: a thoroughly thoughtful going away party; carving out time for more good-bye dinners than I can count; coming over to help pack my kitchen or load the trailer; pursuing time with me after literally stepping off of a plane; multiple trips by my parents to help; prayers and words of encouragement throughout the journey; letting me crash in the guest room; notes and cards and gifts and emails and many, many other measures large and small that floor me if I think on them too long.

I’m grateful for friends and family who put love into practice, even by sharing nothing but their time over a meal. For many of them, their kindness wasn’t convenient. We’re all busy people with a mile-long to-do list. Being the only non-family member loading up the trailer isn’t exactly what someone gets excited about doing on a Monday night, particularly when they aren’t all that jazzed about me leaving in the first place. (Thanks again, Jeff!)

All of this has me thinking about generosity and the ways in which I show it to others. I wonder whether I demonstrate acts of generosity that are most convenient for me–not necessarily most beneficial to the one in need. I think true generosity comes at a cost to the giver. It takes a toll. There’s a price to be paid even if it’s small. We pay the price because we want to and because we can and because it’s needed. And I want to be willing to pay that price, because I know what it’s like to be a beneficiary.

Perhaps it takes being in the humble position of needing grace to know what it means to share it.

Photo by Stewardship/CC BY

Prone to move: “Go west, young man…”

Let’s get right down to business: I’m moving to Denver.
Lookout
Specifically, I’m moving to the northwest Denver suburb of Arvada to help with a church-plant project called Storyline Fellowship. Though this may seem like a sudden change, it’s been in the works for a while.

Sometime late last year, I heard about a new church planting project that my church in Orlando was preparing to sponsor. It sounded like a nice idea at the time, but I honestly didn’t give it a second though. That all changed when Ben and Lynley brought their family to Orlando early this year.

After a few weeks of having them around and hearing more about Storyline Fellowship and my church’s participation with it, a friend challenged me to give it some serious thought and prayer because she thought it could be a great opportunity, and she felt like God was bringing me to mind when she was praying about it.

What she didn’t know at the time was that I was in the early rounds of interviews for what would have likely been a Dream Job in Orlando. I told her that I would think about Denver once I knew what was happening with the Dream Job.

Nothing happened with the Dream Job, as it turns out, and true to my word, a long process of contemplation and prayer about a move to Denver commenced. Over the next several months, I connected with Ben and Lynley and their family and several other friends who were also in the process of figuring this out. I talked with my parents and with friends near and far, and began to think that this could actually be a reality. My emotions were going in two very different directions: growing excitement at the possibility, and growing hesitation about leaving the familiarity of family and friends and community. (Full disclosure: this is still the case.)

Before they left Orlando, Ben and Lynley and I picked out a weekend in June for a visit. Leading up to it, I tried not to put too much pressure on this one weekend as any sort of confirmation, but by Sunday night during the trip, sitting on the deck looking over the Denver skyline, I knew that a move to Arvada was my next step.

I listed my house for sale the day before I left for Colorado in late June. After 13 days on the market, I had an offer. It’s now under contract, and as of this writing, the plan is to move shortly after closing in mid-September.

There are still plenty of unknowns, namely where I’ll live and what I’ll do for a living. But God has been apparent and faithful in this so far, and I have no reason to think that will change.

I’m excited about the road ahead. I have no doubt there will be plenty of other blog posts leading up to and after the move. But for now, I’ve got a growing list of things to do for a cross-country move and a shrinking amount of time.

Let the adventure begin!

Prone to share: Getting to know you

There’s so much I still have to learn about this blogging thing (like staying consistent with content delivery, for starters!). Until my friend, Karin, tagged me last week, I didn’t even know what a “blog hop” was. I’m sure it has some noble origins, but for me, it was a much-needed prompt to write. It’s a pretty simple concept: answer four questions about your self. So here we go…

  1. What am I writing or working on? Funny you should ask! I’m actually working on one of the biggest “projects” of my life, but I’m not quite ready to spill the beans here on the interwebs. When I am, you can bet I’ll be writing about it…
  2. How does my work differ from others in this genre? See, this question is proof that the person who started this little Blog Hop charade likely meant it for real bloggers, as opposed to random people with questionable grammar and no particular genre. Truth is, I don’t even know what my genre is (though I do know that my color season is “autumn”). I like to think that I provide commentary on life, which is why you should all be thankful that I rarely blog at airports. Those places are like the Super Bowl of people-watching.
  3. Why do I write what I do? Hmmm. Methinks an honest answer of this question would require that I actually write on some minimal frequency. I write about events around me that make me think. I write about conversations. I write about things that have impacted me because I sometimes have a hunch they might impact others, as well.
  4. How does my writing process work? In this particular case, I didn’t have a choice. Though I have schedules and outlines and plans a’plenty, those rarely materialize like I intend them to. Sometimes I mull over a blog post for a few days, maybe even bouncing the idea off someone. Other times, the shame of inactivity drives me to the keyboard and I plow through a string of somewhat coherent thoughts. Then there are the rare occasions that I go all Hemingway, down a fifth of Jack Daniels and let the chips fall where they may! (Totally joking on this last one, mostly.)
In case you haven’t met her, you should hop on over to Karin’s blog. I met her through a mutual friend at work (who has YET to finish her Blog Hop assignment), and our collective adventures have included a day trip up to St. Augustine and a hangry stroll around Disney’s Boardwalk.
And for the next Blog Hop victims, let me introduce you to
Tag, you’re it.