Eleven months ago, we were about to move into this house. I remember packing at night after Linnea and Peter were in bed, my legs and back heavy and aching with pregnancy and the repetitive stooping and straightening to fill boxes. Tim taking pictures of our decluttered shelves to put our Kirkland house up for rent on Craigslist. It felt surreal.
Now, almost a year later, it still does. Anniversaries bring memories, and as I look forward to fall -- my favorite season -- my vision is clouded by a sudden rush of thoughts and emotions. I still miss that house. It was like a member of our family. Are we really supposed to be out here? Some things about living in the country are hard.
I love looking at trees. But I miss having neighbors.
I love the beauty of the Snoqualmie Valley. But when it’s dinnertime and everybody’s going a little nuts, I miss a shorter commute for my husband.
I love this crazy old house. But it some ways, it still feels unfamiliar, like it’s not really mine.
And it dawns on me, that maybe what I was looking for a year ago -- and what keeps plaguing me, because it's something I cannot find -- was a lifestyle that was perfectly easy. A confirmation for this crazy move we took, a decision that came out of nowhere, is better in every way than what we had before. The proverbial “cons” list obliterated by the “pros.” I've realized that that's what I've been wanting to calm my anxious heart when it whispers, "Did we do the wrong thing?"
It's funny fitting furniture in this house. There are so many windows and doors. And even though we have more space, it looks different, and some things just don’t really fit. I catch myself imagining doing homeschool in our old basement, where the books wouldn’t have to clutter up the dining room. I imagine walking in bare feet on our old (rebuilt!) deck, which somehow always looked so clean, instead of our century-old wraparound porch, which somehow always seems dirty.
I struggle to keep things clean, and though thankful for the extra space I know it means that much more dust. I adore having the yard to run in with the kids, but am constantly on the watch for wild animals, ever since we spotted evidence of coyotes on the property in July.
And a voice whispers, You’re just not cut out for this. You don’t really belong here.
Sometimes it really does feel like paradise. Tim and I look at each other: can you believe we live here? The flowering trees of spring and dinners on the porch, the fruit trees and the deer and the picture-perfect vistas. Right now the pumpkins are turning orange, and we can probably harvest some of our corn this weekend. Yeah, you heard that right. We’re wannabe farmers. We’ve had tomatoes coming out our eyeballs and some squash that just won’t quit, and I am up at night peeling, chopping, blanching, freezing – putting it up. I am learning some country ways.
But wow, am I learning that I have been passionately seeking after a home. A place where I feel perfectly safe, where things work perfectly right, where all the space is glorious and clean and utterly suited to our needs. When the sun is up, I feel beyond thankful. This house! This garden! A bedroom for everyone and a chicken in every pot (so to speak)! Imagine cleaning baby food off the floor and IT ISN’T CARPET! But when night has fallen and it feels kind of lonely, and we can hear our neighbors throwing knives in their backyard (some country folks are … different), and it can seem like sinister wildlife is lurking behind every bush and tree – I do not feel thankful. I feel fearful and uncertain.
How did Paul feel, tramping the dusty earth from town to town to spread the gospel, being beaten, thrown out, stoned, and shipwrecked? Did he question where God had him because it wasn’t comfortable?
How about missionaries to other countries, living without proper bathrooms or hospitals, far from family and friends? God’s calling isn’t easy for them.
And what about me? Just me, a missionary to my family. Do I believe God put me here? If I do, it shouldn’t matter how comfortable I am. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds. I do believe God has provided much comfort for us here. He has given us blessings we don’t deserve, and I frequently whisper prayers of thanks for them. But I am reminded: this world is not our home. In some way, I will always be uncomfortable, because of sin.
When I wonder if we’ve made the right choice; if our kids will grow up marginalized because they can’t play kickball with the neighbors after dinner; if I’d feel happier/safer/better if we were still in Kirkland, a place where I truly did leave a piece of my heart… I can hope in the fact that nowhere will life feel perfectly easy. And the fact that it doesn’t feel easy doesn’t mean it’s not right where He wants us.
God may have called us to something hard. Just putting that into words makes something click. Of all the merits of this new life we have going on… our hope should not be in them. Is my identity in my home, and how it makes me feel? In whether I walk to things or drive to them? In putting homegrown chopped zucchini in the freezer?
I am learning about who God says I am, and about all the trappings of this world that lure me to give my trust. And I am encouraged that even when I don’t feel at home, God is with me. Even when uncertain about my surroundings, He is here. That my life on earth is momentary compared with his eternity, a picture so beautifully painted by C.S. Lewis in the final pages of The Last Battle, when the Pevensie children and Eustace and Jill realize they have entered Aslan’s Country, their eternal home:
“It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed and then cried:
‘I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!’”
(C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle, p. 171)
(The blog is back. Cute pictures to come. :))