The alarm is set to seven in the morning, but my body listens to the sun barely waking up over the horizon and together we start the day. I fumble around for my glasses, slow-motion my way out of bed, into my robe, and tiptoe into the darkness of the house. It’s quiet and still, and I breathe in the peace of the morning with a deep sigh.
I walk to the kitchen to brew our favorite hazelnut coffee, and as I go through the motions of filling the coffeemaker, I’m overcome by how much I love this, all of this – the life I have, in this home, with my family, in our suburb. It’s altogether strange and wonderful considering how far from this I’d felt for years.
For most of my life, I considered suburbia to be too curated, too boring, too suffocating. To my passionate young self who wanted to live a missionary’s life overseas as I had done growing up, the idea of settling down in a comfortable, convenient place was out of the question for my future. But for some unknown reason, God considered it right and good to bring me back to this place and for me to call it home. Even the mundane rhythms of mothering and homemaking that I once despised have become the very things that keep me grounded and at peace. And the most surprising part has been my renewed love for my local church and her people, my people.
I’m genuinely content and, dare I even say, happy. It’s a strange statement to say out loud, but I’m receiving its truth with tender care. But as I wonder how I got here, I’m beginning to name what shifted for me to see things the way I do now.
One thing I can point to is my decision to be rooted where I am, to choose to love the place I’m in and the people I do life with inside and outside my home. Sometime after the thick of pandemic grief, I started saying that I want to create flourishing wherever I go, wherever I am, and that perspective has changed the way I see myself in my current circumstance. Instead of weighing how much I’m giving up to be where I am against what I’m gaining in return, I simply live fully as I am and offer myself wholly and authentically to the world that is. It’s living and loving generously, vulnerably, and graciously, and my goodness, is it life-giving.
I think of Jeremiah 29:4-7: “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’”
Perhaps these words were difficult to comprehend for the exiles who were displaced in Babylon. “How, God?” they may have pleaded. And this is what I hear the Lord saying to them, to me, to us: “One thing at a time – build, plant, settle in. Be rooted where you are. Live your life, and invest in the flourishing of the place you’re in, of the people you’re with.”
And one day soon, you’ll wake up and go through the motions of a very ordinary day and see that the seeds of flourishing you sowed are blooming into an abundant garden of life and joy right where you are.