Thursday, June 28, 2012

"by His grace, in this part of His vineyard, I grow."

It occurred to me that I've had this blog for about a year now. That means we've been living in St. Louis for two whole years—longer than we'd lived in Berkeley. We've already spent more than half our marriage here.

I've been reflecting lately on how St. Louis truly feels like home to me. I don't just mean in a sentimental way, or that I feel like I've lived there all my life. It's also not true that Western Pennsylvania and Southern California aren't "home"; they probably always will be, no matter where we end up. But there is a real sense in which it's home, and I think there are two pieces of that:

First, the fact that we decided it was home before we even moved in. As we made our decision about where I would begin a doctoral program, Kevin and I were very intentional about choosing a place that would not only allow me to thrive academically, but where we could establish a home. I want to be careful not to make this sound like a diss on Berkeley; there are people in Berkeley I deeply miss, and even a few other things...there will always be a certain sweetness about the first place we lived as a married couple. But I'm not sure we ever felt settled there. It was rocky ground for us. Nevertheless, I know that the Lord put us there for specific reasons, and in time I trust I'll better understand them. (...I hope so. I have questions!)

It quickly became evident that St. Louis had the potential to be home for us in a way that Northern California was not. There were many practical aspects of this, affordability being only one. The bigger reason was that we immediately found a church we loved and said, "This is our church." (Admittedly, this is made easier by the fact that we aren't seminarians—no matter how often we're mistaken for them!—and we don't have a home church elsewhere.) We took the attitude that St. Louis was where we meant to put down roots for a good long while. I, especially, have clung to the belief that my school is only one reason we're here, and it isn't the only or most important part of our lives here. It could be that I'm reacting strongly against a decade of being labeled as a transient student and refuse to be defined by that any longer. Whatever the wisdom of that, it's felt rather crucial to my sanity at times, and apparently it's effective, as I often forget that we technically still fall under that "just-passing-through" category.

The second, more important reason that St. Louis is home is because God has made it that for us. He knew what we needed far better than we did, and he has provided for our every need. I've continually been humbled by his providence—materially, spiritually, relationally—during our short time in St. Louis. He picked out the apartment we would move into, the neighbors we would have, the church we would attend, the small groups we would join, long before we ever thought about them. He planned the classes we would take, the sermons we would hear, the conversations we'd cherish, the months we'd just scrape by, and the joyfully routine days and weeks. All of these things—both the things that make me glad and the things that, as of this moment, make no sense to me—are part of a story God has already written. However it unfolds, God is glorifying himself in it, and teaching me that I am found in him.

Though we anticipate being in St. Louis for two or three more years (I truly can't begin to picture what our lives will look like at that point, or where we'll be headed next), we know very well how things can change. No matter what, it is highly likely that we won't be here forever. That doesn't take away from the fact that St. Louis has truly been, and is, our home. It's my prayer that my home and heart will be as open as possible during whatever remaining time the Lord has for us here.

No comments:

Post a Comment