I wrote last week about holding patterns, and a friend asked if we had considered moving again. Alas, as much as I would love to spend another few years living a fantasy life in Europe, that chapter of our lives is well and truly finished. We are here for the long haul. We are holding.
Extended family now holds space on our calendar. Old friendships require tending, and fledgling relationships need time and space to continue growing. We host a high school small group in our home weekly, and our church partners with us to help our kids become disciples of Jesus, rather than believers in name only. Our church offers them more than a place to slip in and slip out of, it offers my kids somewhere to serve on a Sunday. Even when it feels so ordinary, we belong here, even in the holding.
We have a daughter entering a pivotal year in high school this fall, and we planned a summer full of college visits along the Eastern Seaboard. Our two younger kids spent the last two years developing friendships and playing town sports and learning what it means to be a part of a community. Every time we sign up for club or a clinic, every time we steer the college conversation, every time we invite another friend into our everyday lives–we teach our kids the value of belonging.
We’ve turned down great opportunities. We dream big, and sometimes the answers to those dreams seem to lie in a previous chapter or in a plot line leading Elsewhere. In the past, we birthed our dreams out of the going. Now, we are learning how to dream in the present from a place of belonging.
Saying no to opportunity–to a great job or an exciting environment or the fresh challenges of the new and novel–feels counterintuitive. But we’ll never know what it means to be rooted somewhere, to commit to a church and a community if we don’t give up some of the things we think we wanted.
Belonging sounds warm and fuzzy. It sounds like home comforts and friends around a campfire and knowing your place in this world intimately. But, it requires hard choices. Making due with situations that chafe. Fighting the urge to run. In this season, belonging sounds like waiting, it sounds like holding on for dear life while we wonder what God is up to while we circle around this mountain once more.
Staying here, saying no to good things in the hopes of something better, can feel truncating, as if we’ve been cut off. But I know growth happens beyond what we see above ground in the obvious spaces. Limbs may no longer branch towards the sky, and we may wonder if staying will ever bear fruit, but under the soil our roots grow down in tendrils. They grasp at the dirt and find sustenance in the darkness. Growth happens in the secret places, invisible to the naked eye, we lay filament upon filament. Even when we’re holding, the deepest parts of us continue growing.
What does belonging look, feel, or sound like to you right now? Are you in a place of obvious growth, or is your growth taking place in the quiet, deeper places?