Today started out sadly. A good friend knocked on my door to say goodbye. We sat in the living room while she nursed her sweet little guy, the children wowed her with their little nothings, we found a moment to reflect. And I blessed her, and I cried, and then she was gone.
They are off to an easier place to live, with more land, lower housing prices, and greater opportunities for work; a place where family is just a few blocks away and having a mother stay home with her children is not a financial sacrifice.
This evening finished off with a bon voyage party for another good friend. We played in the park, ate delicious food brought from various homes, talked about the weather, listened to the children laugh, and then we hugged goodbye. And then they will be gone.
Again, they go to a place where jobs are plentiful, housing is cheaper, and family is close. Where friends stay home in mass, and so see each other often, and children can be given space to grow. I blessed her, and disheartened, walked away.
In between, I brought my sweet little dog with us to run errands so she wouldn't be home without us, and someone yelled at me for leaving her in the car for a moment. They called the police, they called security, they called the SPCA. No one came to honor their requests, but they were angry, and they felt I need to know their anger. It was a neighborhood known to be unfriendly, and it is the neighborhood I must often shop in, as it is so close.
The tough little boys who make up our soccer league mocked my son because his ball was purple, and he said it hurt his feelings to hear this greivance. And I felt greived.
The city was a hostile place for me today. And I wondered why we chose to live in it.
Some days, it is hard to live in the city. Today was particularly so.
Why do we? Why are our children raised in an urban hub, with constant noise of traffic, with throngs of people occupying every space? Why do we live in a place that often sees friends move on to quieter lands with better economies? It can be so very lonely, and so very pressed with people.
"The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and violent men take it by force." -Matthew 11:12
My husband and I don't live here by accident.
We live here on purpose.
There is a desire in our hearts to see Jesus known in this city, for people here to be ushered into his lifegiving presence, to have meaning restored to their lives, to let them walk away from rebellion and submit to the greatest King, our Lord. We have felt this call on our lives, and we have tried to live faithfully to it.
The devil seeks to destroy life, and he particularly rankles at those who are life givers. My family, my heart, my vision for why we are here, are prime targets for his deadly arrows.
So when sad days come, when the temptation is to join the great exodus, when the hostility of the city is pressing in on me, I must redouble my commitment. Christ's heart for those in the city must become my mantle piece. The fervor and zeal that brought me here in the first place, must be front and center in my heart. And from there I can resist the arrows of the enemy.
From there I can rejoice that my children are seeing parents who have a deep sense of mission and purpose to their lives. They can see how struggles do not define us, but refine us. And in the future, they can choose to do the same.
May the days that are hard, that are sad times, that include the difficulty of existing in this yet redeemed world be yours to grab a hold of the kingdom of God ever tighter, with all of your volition charged for the task. And may your children be inspired by the faith they find in their home.