When we moved into our house last summer we knew our lawn was in trouble. My husband worked tirelessly to try to get the grass to grow, but sadly it seemed that months of neglect from the builder had thwarted our grass before it had the chance to show what it was made of. My husband was irritated, and I was sad that I couldn’t frolic in the grass with my bare feet ( I like to frolic occasionally. Not really. But grass and bare feet are a blessed combination). Every time I’d step on the grass, I’d yelp in pain and pull a dead blade of grass from my skin.
This year, my husband had a plan. I don’t know what it was (I was busy trying to publish a novel *wink wink*), but I know that he sweat blood and tears trying to make our yard healthy and pleasing to the eye. One afternoon he came into the house, more irritated than normal about his efforts. He had discovered that it wasn’t due to neglect that our grass wouldn’t grow, but because underneath the very thin layer of soil were an insane amount of rocks. The grass had no where to root! Rocks choked it out, and therefore our grass has never been luscious and green (unless you count the weeds. They seem to thrive!).
This problem is just like our Christian walk . . . erm . . . no. That’s not where I’m going with that. But it is metaphorical to something the Father revealed to me today about my own life. My husband and I have been in DFW for nine years this month, and we have struggled very much to find our place here. We have been from fellowship (job) to fellowship (job), experienced betrayal, accusation, fair-weather friendships that were quick to jump to the accusing team, and a general lack of intimate relationships. We have always managed to survive in spite of this because we do have intimate relationships with people elsewhere where we are pastored and mentored and part of a family. But we don’t live there, and we only get to go back once or twice a year.
If you’ve spent any time with me in the past few years, you know that I would give anything to move back there. People ask me frequently, “How come you guys don’t go back?” This is a question I’ve struggled with since just before we had our second son. We have tried to go back. I have prayed and begged and felt like the Father has said that yes, someday we’ll go back, but He hasn’t ever put a time frame on it. Anytime things rattle for us and we know a change is coming, I get hopeful: This is it. We’re going back. But we’re still here, in dry, hot Texas where winter is (usually) just an extension of fall and summer tries to melt your the skin off of your face.
It occurred to me a few weeks ago that though even our kids ask to go back as well, this is their home now. This is the only place they’ve lived. If we left, we would be uprooting them in a way that makes kids stop speaking to their parents in movies. I began then to release my dream, slowly.
This morning the Father revealed to me, very gently that this desperate desire to be amongst the people that I know love me unconditionally, that I don’t have to work to trust, who I’ve given absolute permission to speak into my life, has become an enormous idol in my life. As much as I have sought friendship here in DFW, it’s as if I’ve written with black sharpie all over myself, “I don’t belong here. I am leaving. I am not staying here.” I have prayed so many time, “Lord, I will go wherever you want me to go, please let it be back there.” I have thought countless times, “We could leave tomorrow and never look back,” and “I already have someone who speaks into my life, I don’t need to receive from anyone else.” In fact, I’ve subconsciously thought that I would be offending my spiritual parents by giving anyone else permission in my life.
I have compared friendships and relationships and authority figures to others and have under-valued people the Father has brought to me on a scale so large that I grieved over it this morning. I grieved over how difficult it was to release this idol to the Father and pray instead, “Father, I will stay wherever you want me to stay.”
For the past 5 years at least (the first few years here were a garbage disposal full of chaos, and that’s just the cold hard truth. God is great, beer is good, and people are CRAZY.) I have completely missed out on some people that the Father wanted to bless me with, and all the while I thought it was their fault. I thought that DFW as a whole was simply too busy for meaningful relationships, and even though I did have some genuine friendships, they only ever reached a certain level, they never went as deep as I needed them too.
So this is where the grass comes in: Like I said, the first few years here were brutal, if not down right cruel to us. Our foundation here was weak, full of rocks and boulders, so when I tried to plant seeds of friendship and intimacy, there was no where for those things to root. I wasn’t even committed enough to the soil I was working with, and with each friendship that seemingly failed me, those dead blades of grass pricked my feet and I recoiled from them.
Luckily, for our lawn, we can just bring in a bunch of topsoil, cover the old grass and reseed. But for my life, I had to go through today and dig up those rocks, admit where I’d failed and turn over one of the biggest idols I’ve ever had in my life. It was shocking to me how much it hurt; how hard I had clung to the belief that God wouldn’t do for me here what He had done for me there. He couldn’t possibly provide what I need in this place that I have looked at as desolate and depressing.
I repented this morning, over and over as I sobbed my heart out to the Lord. I know now that it is my fault that I’ve missed out. That though I have put forth a facade of desiring intimacy and relationship, I have really been holding everyone at arms length, not wanting to be too close because I don’t want to stay here. I think I am still grieving what I have missed out on, but I’m done missing out on it. I’m here. I live here.