Edit: We realized that in this situation we were giving too much power to too many people who don’t matter much at all. We are planning on staying in this home and bringing in some of the updates and features we liked in the houses we were looking at into this ol’ house. When we told our adult son, who does not live with us, that we had changed our minds and were staying he sighed and said “Good. This is home.” Amen.
I currently live in a nice quiet neighborhood in an enclosed development, safe for kids to ride bikes and dog lovers to take their canine friends on long walks. No one is afraid to go out in the dark, and crime consists of the occasional teenage act of vandalism or theft. So why do I feel so uncomfortable in this place, and why am I so anxious to start over that I would allow the bank to reclaim this property that I can’t sell and start over?
I can’t seem to connect with the people.
This is a neighborhood of self-reported Christians, good people, and family oriented folks. Yet our life here has been and continues to be subject to gossip, anger and ostracism over our opposition to property law changes, and outright nose-in-the-air, eyes-straight-ahead snubbing by some. We are very much alone here, judged and found wanting by people with whom we’ve never had a meaningful conversation.
We as a family desire to live authentically. We know that human beings are not perfect. We know that marriages go through seasons, parenting is hard, and children will not always be what you expect them to be. Various family members have struggled with temper, defensiveness, negative behaviors based on emotional injury, immaturity, addiction, with illness, changing finances and changing friendships. We know that sometimes life is downright messy. We are well aware that we are not perfect and that all of the members of this family have made embarrassing mistakes and have often made Christianity seem less than admirable by our example. But we are REAL. We don’t see the point in the pretense. After ten years of living in this neighborhood, I know a lot of what has gone on behind the curtains of the neighbors’ homes. I don’t judge them for choosing to keep their struggles on the down-low and front with perfection. That’s just not us. We share our struggles and triumphs openly and respectfully in the hope that we can encourage other people to trust in God and overcome their present circumstance. We live authentically in the hope of making REAL connections with people and not wasting a life or a ministry faking perfection. Because believe, people…..how you act in your neighborhood is part of your personal ministry. Hopefully you are making God look good.
I am reading “For the Love” by Christian author and speaker Jen Hatmaker right now. I really enjoy her “realness”. And this passage jumped out at me this morning.
“But when we are locked in a toxic relationship or community, spiritual pollution can murder everything tender and Christlike in us; and a watching world doesn’t always witness those private kill shots. Unhealthy relationships can destroy our hope, optimism, gentleness.We can lose our heart and lose our way while pouring endless energy into an abyss that has no bottom. There is a time to put redemption in the hands of God and walk away before destroying your spirit with futile diligence . Sometimes the bravest thing is to stop fighting for something that is never going to produce a winner.”
It is not important to me to gain vindication for my feelings by labeling anyone a sub-par Christian or a big fat meanie. To my mind, all Christians are a work in progress. None of us meets the standard Christ set. But it IS important for me to admit that I am ineffective in this neighborhood. I want to be an open door of hospitality, a valued part of the community, and an example of what love and grace can accomplish. It is not going to happen here.
This is the first time I have tried to describe my experience and feelings about where I live, and I want to make it clear that I wish nothing but the best for the people here. I hope the next owner of this house is a better conduit of Christian love and can overcome these people’s defenses. For the sake of our own spiritual growth, though, we’re out.