Sunday, March 23, 2014

Basement living and such.

It's a strange place to be blogging, unlike my usual posture on the beloved velvet couch... Ceiling fan cranking out low hums and minimal airflow, the occasional slam of a screen door from the neighbouring apartment, a ring of condensation seeping rapidly onto the coffee table from the bottom of my glass, barefeet on the floor tiles.

Here, I wear slippers. Nestled downstairs in my parents basement which they have tastefully decorated and nicknamed 'the cabin'. The fireplace flickers, memories hang on walls, former cottage furniture reside, and I make my dwelling whilst navigating the newness in myself and all around.
'Home' as I've known it has changed a lot. For starters, Welland has a Target (and a Starbucks for that matter)! The little girls I used to teach in Sunday school are getting drivers licences. The skinny maple seedlings growing in the front yard are tall and full. The young couples who were getting engaged are now parenting toddlers. Friends who once lived down the road have followed their dreams to big cities or other provinces, and there are others who have crossed over to heaven.

It's been a joy to put roots down in this place again, and let go of the countdown between comings and goings. But it also brings us to the ever-emerging question… So what exactly are you doing now?

I admit, some mornings I wake up, look in the mirror and ask myself the same question. My 'purpose' and routine in Haiti was so automatic, accepted and applauded. And coming home, I've had this brewing internal expectation: To find the next 'big thing'. Because if I served overseas as a teacher for missionary kids, then I must have come home for something even greater, right?

It's scary to think where I would be if I had never taken the leap to Haiti. It taught me, stretched me, prodded me, blessed me, changed me, wooed me, and enlightened me to so much beyond my borders. But I have to admit, despite the beauty all around, growth within, and even normalcy about it all, there was a persistent piece of me that fed off the glimmer of living and serving overseas.

Over the past 5 years, I've grown accustomed to associating my worth to what I 'do'. It has brought me great confidence and validation, but it's also created a slow-growing tangle, and somewhere between my flight home and where I sit today, it snagged. It's in this process of untangling, I begin to uncover just how much of my identity and value was wrapped up in my Haiti life. Coming home has stripped away one of my biggest safety nets, because not only have I lost an integral part of who I am, but how others see me.
As I've been sifting through all of this, searching for a direction or mile-marker to put me back on track, I stumbled across a simple word. It's one that I've heard many times before, but it this time, it silenced my quest.


Jesus says it over and over again. Abide in me (John 15:4). Abide in my word (John 8:31). Abide in my love (John 15:9). Abide and you will bear fruit (John 15:16).
Upon some further investigation with Webster, I gained a better understanding of this small but mighty word. Let me emphasize 'abide' doesn't include any doing. Rather, it's all about BEING; staying close beside Jesus, dwelling near to Him, remaining faithful to Him through all of life's seasons. The action of abiding instantly frees us from the mental checklist full of requirements such as 'becoming', 'mastering' and 'attaining'. Even the heaviest bags of well-laid plans can be released from our grip, because He simply delights in us (Zephaniah 3:17). Us. Not our 'doings' nor our 'next big things'. Just who He made us to be.

I confess, this Love is a lot to get my head around. A wide, fierce, relentless, unconditional, life-giving love. But even when I forget, question, deny, or even try to resist, the grace pours down and wisps over this stubborn heart, bringing new mercy with every sunrise.

Morning comes and I have spent
Every decent thing I am
Pockets empty
Now it's you and me
I've been foolish, rash, unruly
Taking pride in all I have
Taken from you
Now it's you and me

This is Love
When I give my heart to everyone but you,
This is Love
When I have turned my back away from you,
This is Love
When I have left you for the selfish things I do,
This is Love
That you would still love me, in spite of me

Seconds pass and I think back
To every time that I have said
I am sorry
Now it's you and me
So can I say these words again
Even with the things I've done
I broke your heart
Now it's you and me

Morning comes and I think back
To every time that I've said
I am sorry

This is Love ~ The Autumn Film
Listen to it here: