When we were preparing to leave Oregon, I had no doubt that the toughest thing for me was going to be leaving our people. We were deeply rooted in Oregon; both being native Oregonians. But beyond physically living there, we were (and still are) deeply rooted in people’s lives.
We have spent the last 6 years, and even more intensely in the last 4 years, becoming established in Oregon. We worked hard to be established in our neighborhood, in our church, in the local schools, in the foster care system, in the community. I say this truly humbly, that I feel we did a good job at becoming established. We are well known around all those areas I listed. Not just known for what we do, but for who we are. We had true intimacy – to know and to be known. I can confidently say that not only are we known, but we know those who are involved in our life. I couldn’t walk into a courtroom without the judge knowing me by first name (I promise they know me for good things! #fosterparentlife). On Sunday we wouldn’t even get out of our car at church before we had friends saying hi. Our neighbors were over at least weekly and often 2-3 times a week during the summer (hello firepit) to do life with us. The teachers at school knew we would likely be enrolling new kids every single year and several times throughout the year. Our friends knew they could ask for a referral from Chad and he would know THE perfect person for the job. We knew that we could call up anyone of about a dozen people and they would bring us dinner in a heartbeat or watch our kids we had one of our 943 appointments. We knew the struggles our people were going through. We would show up when they needed us, and oftentimes when they didn’t! We sat in the hard times and celebrated the amazing times with them. The door to our home was constantly open and we had people revolving in and out at all times.
My people know me. The real, true, raw, me. They know my strengths, they know my weaknesses. They know how to call me out and when I need to be called out. They know when I am struggling, and when I just need them to bring me a coffee and tell me it’ll all be alright. Beyond the just knowing all these things… they actually DID those things.
And we left all of that.
Yes… we still have visits from them and phone calls and voice texts and all the social media platforms. Sure, that helps ease the pain. But it is oh so different.
I have found myself sitting in this place of quietness, solitude, aloneness (I don’t know if that’s even a word but it makes sense to me). I don’t have a desire to go to the bible study group. I don’t have any desire to linger after church to get to know people. I have no desire to share the cookies I made with the neighbor. I have no desire to invest in the staff at the school.
And to be honest the lack of desire has been bugging me. “What is wrong with this picture Jesus?” I am normally the FIRST person up for inviting people over. I am typically the person setting up the bible study group. And now I don’t even want to participate.
This morning I had a revolution about this – see, branching out and starting these life-giving practices here in Texas makes this move even more real. It shows that we are here, and that we are working to establish here. Instead of facing that reality, I just choose to avoid it all together. “I’m good”. “I’ve already got my people… I don’t need to seek out more.” But those are just ways of avoiding, of redirecting, of not facing the reality.
Because this is our reality now. This is our place now. By getting to know those around me, by plugging into that bible study, but investing in our neighbors, we are showing the love of Jesus to those around us and we are establishing roots around here. I’m not cheating on our Oregon peeps… I’m just asking Jesus to make room in my heart and in my life for the people that He wants there.
Jesus fills in the gaps. He stretches me. He pursues me. He guides my steps. And when my husband and my 19 year old tell me “GO TO THE BIBLE STUDY… you need to meet new people” then I go. And I am blessed. And I am reminded that Jesus knows what He is doing. He is meeting in my aching, homesick heart. He cares. And He is right here, right in the middle of all of this. When I am missing intimacy with those near and dear to me, He reminds me that He made me and knows every little thing about me… and He knows I need my people.