September 23, 2010

Settling Down

"Do NOT conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing, and perfect will."

Geoff and I have lived very active lives since getting married almost four years ago. We have moved several times, traveled explored numerous opportunities, and everything else except...settle down. People used to ask me when I would "settle down" when I was single and looking for adventures anywhere I could find them from Europe, to Hawaii, to Israel. Once I got married I thought I would finally have to "settle down," and I'm thrilled to have been wrong. I have loved the last four years with Geoff of living in Colorado, and Texas, and traveling to places like Israel, Alaska, and Hawaii. We got very close to settling down when we bought our first house in Abilene while Geoff was completing his M. Div and I had a full time career type job. We weren't settled there long before life changed again. Change is good.

The more I contemplate "settling down" the more opposed to the very cultural principal I become. I remember countless people telling me that my passions and energies will go away as I get older. That passion for Christ and radical living in the face of a prosperous society were issues that balanced themselves out as we matured and "settled-down." I am as opposed to that concept as much or more now than I was then. I hope I NEVER lose my drive to be different in this world, to ask for more out of it, to wrestle daily with how to pursue Christ's mission of bringing the Kingdom here on earth.

I have some seriously amazing friends. My loneliness for my friends sometimes overwhelms me as they are spread all over the world as we or I have moved away. My closest friends are passionate people who are pursuing their dreams in full fashion. I was able to spend some really good quality time with a lot of them this past month, and am overwhelmed with thanksgiving for them.

Last month we were also able to attend ACU's Summit lectureship series. It was so refreshing to be there to hear good lessons and reconnect with great people. Again I was reminded that it is okay not to "settle down," but to continue to pursue God actively, crazily, and passionately in whatever way your heart most demands. Though we had to leave before the last lectures, we were able to finish strong by hearing Shane Claiborne speak. I have read his most recent book, and highly value his passion for life in Christ, and his ability to inspire others to take seriously the call of Jesus to change this world through Love.

It is vitally important, I believe, to remember when encountering inspiring people, with inspiring messages, that we each have our own calling. Some may look a lot alike, but God works with each of us on a constant, second to second basis transforming us into His image. The most important thing I am trying to remember as I work out my own mission day by day - is to not settle down.


Chad said...

Hello friend,

I too have long experienced the pulls of adventure and following to wherever. I never thought I would "settle down", especially in West Texas, yet God has called me to stay for a while. There have been definite times when I've wanted to leave, but in staying I am discovering value in stability and an experience of Divine community that I'm convinced is only really found in stability.

I'm not saying we should all "settle down" forever, some are definitely called to go. But I'm not so sure "settling down" is a always a cultural principle to be avoided.

A helpful and challenging book for us has been "The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture" by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

"Trees can be transplanted, often with magnificent results. But their default is to stay."


Jamie said...

Thank you for your thoughts. I agree with you and after re-reading my post, I may have miscommunicated. I was trying to communicate the longing I DO have to "settle down" in a specific community, while acknowledging other philosophical/spiritual ways that I DO NOT want to "settle down."

I think Jesus calls us to intentional community - to going deep with people in a way that only years of loving each other day in and day out can provide. The "cultural principal" I am opposed to is the settling down in spirit and purpose that I see so often when we begin to focus on meaningless comforts, riches, and ambitions of this world. THAT I am opposed to.

I have seen some of the incredible differences y'all have made and know they are possible in large part because y'all are an integral part of your community, with a defined purpose, not just passing through. So far, however, that is not how it has been for us - it has been one short term place after another. I miss people all over this world, and every time I have to move again or say goodbye I leave part of my heart with them.

Hopefully soon I can "settle" in this way, but even while jumping around, I hope I am able to love whole heartedly rather than being guarded - afraid of how much of my heart I'll have to leave behind when called elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

right on

jenneylou said...

Magnificent! I love how you put your thoughts together in this piece and I so agree with you! I sometimes look back over my life and wish I had been so strong and as focused as I see in you and Geoff... but we each have our course and our own specific experiences which makes us suited to help others on courses similar to our respective courses.
But I so get what you are saying, especially in not settling down spiritually!
Thank you for inspiring me with your words!