He sits on the couch on the other side of the room, his hands rubbing his head. I know what he’s thinking and I know he wants to scream.
I secretly want him to. I think he’d feel better if he just yelled out, one good time.
I eat leftover banana pudding and I practice the art of listening.
I watch him wrestle outside of his body and his words tumble out, each one punctuated with force and he’s not mad.
But he is righteously angry.
I lick my spoon and I fight the urge to lick the bowl and still, I watch him. Something like joy bubbles up from somewhere deep inside and I’m caught off guard by the presence of this joy.
It seems out of place.
He’s no longer rubbing his head, instead, his arm is resting on the back of the couch and I catch him smile. I smile back at him.
“So what do we do from here?” I ask. I know the answer, but I want him to hear him say it.
“We stay,” he says. “And I preach the Word. Courageously.” He smiles again.
“Yep, we stay,” I say, smiling my own cheesy grin.
It’s not quite 10 when I crawl between the sheets. I pick up my book, but I can’t read. My mind runs from the words on the page and back to this idea of staying.
It’s new to me. We’ve lived so long on the edge of something more exciting, that I don’t know what it feels like to just stay put.
I think back on the word courageous and I think this act of staying is probably the most courageous thing we’ve ever done. It doesn’t mean that we’re fearless, but rather that we act in the face of fear.
There is much fear in choosing to put down roots and dig in deep and make the necessary emotional investment in people and in our community. There is fear in not fitting in and being alone and short-changing my kids. There is great fear in getting lost in small town America and not being able to measure ministry success and even failing, even though I’m not even sure what failing really means right now. What is failure if the heart is seeking to do the right thing?
But I am slowly learning that there is also something quite holy in this staying put.
There is something holy in the routine of living, this laying the foundation of a life: the grocery shopping, the baseball games, the weekly trips to Sweet Frog, the thinking and planning of the backyard…the thinking and planning of a future on Avent Street.
Staying put means I am committed to learn to bear with others in love, instead of leaving. Staying put means I am committed to learn to live slow and steady instead of fast and furious. It means I am committed to let Jesus work His plan instead of pressing forward in my own ability and in my own plan.
Staying put also brings with it the intentional movement towards contentment. It’s an outward show of obedience and an inward display of a heart working towards being faithful.
I roll over and switch out the lamp. My eyes close on their own and I breathe in, light and easy.
This staying put is no burden.
It’s a gift.