home. no matter where my journey takes me, be it my American home, the Slavic lands that I'm drawn to, or the unknown places yet to come, I'm learning to "trust in the Lord and do good, to dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness..." about me
Bob Goff is a lawyer. But he’s the kind of lawyer that got into law school because he sat outside of the dean’s office every day until the guy finally let him enroll out of pity. He’s the kind of lawyer that somewhat accidentally became Honorary Counsel for Uganda, and gets a lot of his work done while sitting on a picnic table in the middle of a theme park.
One day Bob bought a painting, and he was surprised to find that when he bought it, it came with a much less valuable fake so that the original could be kept safe in a vault. Bob hung the original on his wall goshdarnit, and put the fake in a closet.
He also wrote a book, and I’m glad he shared his thoughts, because they’re golden:
God doesn’t think any less of us when things don’t go right. Actually, I think He plans on it. What He doesn’t plan on is us putting a fake version of ourselves out there to take a hit.
God is the master artist and made an original version of us, a priceless one that cost everything to create. A version that can’t and won’t be created again.
He asks us to hang that version of ourselves for everyone to see.
… despite our inherent beauty, each of us is tempted to hide the original so we don’t get damaged…
(and the fake version of us, it’s not worthless. It’s just worth less because it’s only a copy of the real us, a version we don’t care about as much.)
In my life, I know that I like to pretend I hung the original version on my living room wall. I like to pretend that the fake version of me is stashed under my bed. Truth be told (and shouldn’t it always be so?), the original sometimes makes it onto the pages of my journals, and it is disclosed in the late-night coffee conversations or the silent revelations, but it is rarely hung for all to see.
A lot of times, I am a coward. I say what I am supposed to say. I borrow wisdom and relay it as my own, or as if it came from inherent credit of my character.
I don’t say what I was made to say sometimes. I keep it to myself and leave you without the hope you are searching for, even if you didn’t know. Or I know you already know, you’ve already heard, and you don’t care. But I may be the only one who tells you, and one day I could actually be there when you believe it’s true.
I am selfish and often think I am entitled to grace. I’m sorry.
I’m a romantic, but I’ll take a risky, dirty-train car adventure over a picket fence any day.
I wish someone would watch foreign films with me.
I love people, and I love solitude.
I love to be near the rain, but I hate being rained on.
Wherever I am, I’m all there. It makes me bad at keeping in touch with people, though I’m trying to get better. What’s worse, one of my greatest loves is getting a handwritten note or postcard from you who are far away, and I’m horrible at returning the favor.
I love books, but I never read. I love the feel of them, and their smell, and collecting them to go on a bookshelf that I don’t quite have (yet), but I find it hard to collect minutes to read them. I console myself with “someday”, and yet I know that I keep a steady pace of busy no matter what stage of life I’m in.
I used to equate being close to God with how much I read my Bible, how much I journaled my prayers. I realized just recently that regardless of that, my belief in Him, my hope in His promises, and my absolute confidence in clinging to His goodness are undeterred. It’s not something I make myself do - it’s the reality of the Holy Spirit inside of me - it is a part of me that doesn’t separate itself from who I am based on performance.
I like to walk the tight rope of politically correctness, but I actually don’t know exactly what I believe about politics. I don’t feel particularly passionate about American politics because I’d rather see myself as a world citizen. I’m incredibly grateful for the benefits my blue passport affords me, but I’ve stood in line with those who have a red one, a green one; I’ve taught English to those who have none.
For some reason I’ve gotten to rub shoulders with those who rub shoulders a lot, and someone else paid for it, and yet - my purpose is not diplomatic, or prestigious, or political. My purpose is people, and conversation, and listening - truth, and revelation, and retelling.
I’m proud, and I reread my own words too much, and I’m embarrassed to say so. But I have to be honest. I’d like to hang the original and put the fake in my car’s trunk or something.
Did you know that Jesus is real? Did you know that He knows you because He created you, whether you know or care or acknowledge?
I’m glad Bob Goff likes to write, because I like to read what he writes, and I’m glad God knew that. Because I always need to hear the simple reminder, the (“stop thinking about the grammar, and just speak” of my sweet Russian tutor)…
You know those things that have pinged you? Those gifts that are beautiful? Those countries and people who are most important to you? The God you love? Keep moving toward those. - Love Does
All of the sudden today, I had the realization that I’m not in Kansas anymore… or rather, I’m in Kansas, but Kansas isn’t Kansas anymore, or maybe I just realized that Kansas is flat, and there are windstorms, and threats of tornados, and, well -
my friends are halfway across the world, I’m turning 24 (which is almost 25 which is basically 30) tomorrow, and I just freaking miss them.
I’m not pining for the old days - at least not literally. Because the old days were different, and we weren’t the same people we are now, and so much of who we are now is because of where we’ve been, where we are, and many of the reasons that oceans now separate us.
I love my life, and I love home (my “Kansas”). Not too long ago, actually, I was reminded by former professors how fortunate I am to live in such a place as Greenville. It IS beautiful. It’s just devoid of Kathryn, Rachel, Kellie, Olya, Anya, Angel, Lauren, Amie, Lindsey, Steph, Cara…
And I don’t wish them here - I’m not naïve enough to think that would make anything better, and I’m so happy for all the things that keep them so far away, ironically - vineyards in Napa Valley, mountain hikes in China, conversations over Chai in India… I suppose I’ve just been going full steam ahead for such a long time that when I stopped and took a breath, I realized that I could be weak and miss them and even shed a few tears about it.
But what are those tears for? What are they about?
Something about growing up and wondering what “home” really means… wondering what it means to be lost, to be found, and to follow the Leader when I don’t see beyond his broad shoulders.
I have to remember that those shoulders carried the weight of my sin, conquered death, bore my pardon, and raised me up to life with him forever. How could I not trust that he’ll carry me everywhere that is best? Don’t I know that he loves me, that he saw me before I was born, that he wants me to remember his provision most of all?
Today I felt sorry for myself. Even after a day full of blessing, of hearing that we finally sent off our applications for our Russian visas, that I got special approval from work to be gone long enough on my trip to Eastern Europe, and that I’ll be revisiting a sentimentally significant location to boot, I came home and Satan decided that’d be an awesome time to show up and be a killjoy - jerk. I mean seriously - I had every reason to be praising Jesus (and was!) for all the blessing that he’s poured on me, but somehow I let myself believe the lie that being far away from those people across states and oceans meant that I should respond with self-pity.
So, I bought a journal.
I love journals, and I love the experience of getting a new one - choosing the one with the right kind of pages, the shape that works for my mood, the feel of the cover, the place that it came from, the design that reminds me of something, and sometimes the smell. So I bought this journal…
… in other words, TRUST HIM. Always, but especially when it means you don’t actually see what’s next. And by the way, look around you. Look at the new people that I’ve placed around you! Look at the incredible opportunities I’ve given you in less than a year of returning to America! Look at the people who love you and walk with you, look at the way I have provided (GOOD) employment for you, look at the ways I am delighting in you using the talents that I’ve given you, look at the precious time I’ve given you to spend with your family!
And buying a journal reminded me of the words that I wrote in one in my first months home… words about being a nomad, and that I was willing to live that journey - excited, even - and that I knew it might be hard to only have a tent and not sleep inside four sturdy permanent walls… that it would take trust, and maybe some solitude, but always an opportunity for provision, always a time to see new things, to follow the Leader, and to depend on his strength instead of my own. And with all my worry, my doubt, my sinful self-pity, and my wandering, He calls me Beloved, and reminds me that He keeps his promises… and with him, I am always home.