As in, the dining room is now where the family room used to be and the family room is now where the dining room used to be.
I moved everything but the fireplace and I rehung every picture, basket, and random thing I’ve ever hung on the walls in both rooms. I even managed to rustle up some pictures of the Last Harris Baby and get her preciousness framed and on the wall. Sad it’s taken five years to get her a place on the wall, huh?
I don’t know about you, but when my life feels out of sorts and things are beyond my control, I do one of two things: I move the house around or I bang around in the kitchen. Sometimes, I do both. At the same time.
And if I’m honest with you, life is feeling out of sorts right now. Not out of sorts in a bad way. Just out of sorts.
Last week as Thad and I were wrestling with an issue, I looked at him and said, “I’m not who I used to be, but some days, I’m not so sure I know exactly who I am. I mean, I know who I am in Jesus, but I don’t think I know this new person He is making me to be. I don’t know what to do with her or her gifts. And I especially don’t know what to do with who other people say she is or what they say she is called to do. I wanna sneak away to a monastery so I can think. Alone.”
He just looked at me over the rim of his reading glasses and mumbled a response that let me know he was hearing the words coming out of my mouth but had no answer for them.
I think he had no idea what to do with the monastery bit.
Last summer, after years and years of homeschooling our wild tribe of people, we felt Jesus moving us to put our children in public school. Our decision to homeschool the first few kids was made because it was easier to keep the family in a workable schedule while Thad was in seminary. After moving to Rocky Mount, we continued to homeschool because we felt we needed time to assimilate into a new life. Thad was working a full-time job in a field that was new to him. We were planting a church in our home. I was providing full-time care for 3 children in our home, trying to grapple with a call to write, and wading into intentional neighboring.
Life was full and new and FULL.
So we homeschooled again to maintain the fullness of life and in all of the fullness of life, we felt Jesus asking us to trust Him with our children by placing them in public school. Jesus had called us to live on Avent, among the people here, and He was inviting us to be all in. He was inviting us to taste and see His goodness in a new way. He was inviting us to deeper community with a new people that we might know Him more intimately.
After a few months of wrestling, we simply told Jesus yes. No questions asked.
In the fall of 2014, we bought our kids the standard gear and put them on two different buses going to two different schools. I cried when I watched them walk down the street to their bus stops and then came back inside and wrote this post and prayer.
And then I got up and washed a load of laundry.
I tell you all of this because as I’ve spent the last eight weeks making space for hospitality by preparing my heart to receive others, I’ve spent quite a bit of time sitting with feelings that stem from not quite knowing how to walk around in the new person I am becoming. As I’ve grown in Christ, some shifts have been immediately recognizable. But other shifts in my heart have come so slow and steady over time, that I am often surprised by my new heart’s response to things-
Which brings me back to why I opened the whole conversation about public school in the first place.
When we told Jesus yes to public school, we thought we were simply saying yes to being good neighbors. We had no idea that saying yes to public school meant that we were saying yes to every single thing Jesus would put before us while our children were in those schools.
And we had no idea that every yes would only tether us more to the new life Jesus was giving us.
Jesus has used our family’s involvement in public school to draw us into closer relationship with the people we have been called to love. He has used public school to school us in compassion and draw us into a deeper understanding of the plight of our neighbors who have no choice about where they live or how their children are educated. Public school has opened our eyes to social injustice. Public school has opened doors into the homes of our neighbors that were closed two years ago. It has enlarged our territory and our hearts.
But mostly, public school has been the medium Jesus has used to align our lives more closely with those who find themselves on the margins of life.
For me personally, it’s been in this alignment with my neighbors that I’ve fallen in love with Jesus.
But this alignment with my neighbors has also been the thing that has thrown the life I used to know and love all out of whack. It’s messed with all the pretty delusions I have about Christianity and what it means to follow Jesus. It’s widened the chasm between how I used to live and how much more I know about how Jesus desires for me to live. It has snatched the ignorance I once clung to and replaced it with a heavy burden for those whom I love.
And this is why I don’t quite know what to do in this new skin I’m wearing except to keep trusting Jesus to finish what He has begun in me.
But in the meantime, I’ll keep moving furniture and saying yes to everything Jesus invites me to.
His invitations rarely disappoint.