Perhaps this has always been the case, and I just missed it by years of attending the same church, but I can’t help to feel that the church has all but abandoned the concept of hospitality. In the last couple of years, as I moved to a new city, completed grad-school, and relocated (again), I have had the opportunity to visit many churches. The most overwhelmingly common characteristic of the seven churches I’ve attended in the last three years? A cold, unwelcome, or insincere feeling.
What follows is an approximation of an actual conversation between a friend and myself in the recent past. It should be noted that ever since I decided to come to Fuller, my friend has been pessimistic about the prospects of my ever returning to Idaho. Here, she was trying to determine the chances of my return:
My friend: So, are you a Californian yet?
Me: Well, I was forced to get a California license. Does that count?
My friend: not especially. What else?
Me: Well, I have lived here for several months and I really do like it. Oh, and I also wear really big sunglasses now.
My friend: ok, what else?
Me: Um, lets see. I’ve taken up yoga, and I only drink soy lattes now.
My friend: NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!
Ok, so I know that the blogosphere loves Pics. I know this. Yet do I ever post any?
Sadly we only managed to take one picture in Vegas. In our defense, Jen and I were very tired.
Getting used to seeing these everywhere. Love it.
and maybe just a little of the touristy stuff…
Here it is, the one you may have been waiting to see, and hoping not to see all at the same time:
the dreaded loneliness post.
If you were expecting it to be different, you’ve never done this before. You’ve never left your whole tribe–left your Haran and gone out ‘to the place you will be shown’ (see Genesis 11:27-12:1). Perhaps you’ve never known the feeling of being hundreds of miles away from anyone who’s known you for more than a few hours. The catch in your throat as you drive away from just about everything you’ve invested your life in. The piercing feeling that attacks your heart and your stomach simultaneously as you see your friends drive away to return to the home that isn’t exactly yours anymore. It may be possible that you’ve never had to pep-talk yourself before walking into a new place all alone and hope to God that someone talks to you.
Yeah. Maybe you didn’t know it would be this way.
And, I can’t say you’re the lucky one.
Maybe you did. Maybe you know that living a daring life has costs. Maybe you understand that to live passionately for your God means the choices sometimes hurt a little. Maybe you know. Maybe you know better than I do.
I heard tonight that LA is the second largest city in the country. Although I didn’t know this before, it didn’t surprise me. I’ve made the good team effort to deny my impulses to hide in my room, waiting for classes to start. I’ve accepted the invitations to attend parties where I know no one. To visit homes of strangers. To find comfort in the becoming-familiar faces of people who don’t even know my name. And to hear that statistic tonight made me feel even smaller than I already did.
Yes. Every fun and exciting thing I’ve posted so far has been thoroughly true. I’m not putting on a brave face for anyone back home; and this post proves it. But this rounds out the story, because it would be a lie to tell you anything else. I’m not going to tell you I’m homesick, it’s not true. I’m not going to tell you I’m not terribly excited to be here, it’s not true (yes, a double negative). I’m telling you that I find it so thrilling to see the sun rising over my palm tree knowing that God put me here, and I still don’t really know why.
-I’ve met my first surfer-scholar (imagine both cliche’s smashing into each other)
-the Target store here has its own parking garage, and a man who patrols said garage on a segue. It has decals of shields and badges, and is meant to look official and intimidating, but the effect somehow isn’t.
-the best way to park in Vegas is valet. Anywhere else I’ve been, the valet is only for people interested in dropping an extra twenty bucks for parking, but Vegas says it isn’t so. Pay what you want valet service saves the day!
-Pasadena isn’t humid (this I already knew) but it feels humid to a girl from the high desert of Idaho; at least for a few days. But now I’ve also brought the Idaho heat with me, so today we’re expecting a high of 101. ugh.
-feeling confident about the LA freeway system doesn’t mean you won’t still get tense. Especially when the person in the passenger seat yells as a joke.
-speaking of the freeway, a gps is a lifesaver. But you should still have an idea where you’re going. It’s not cool when you’re navigational brain stops telling you what to do while it’s “searching for signal” since the last tunnel you went through. Plus if you miss your exit, you’re out of luck for several more exits, as you pass by alternate route after alternate route as it recalculates multiple times.
Just a quick note to let you know I am safe and well. I’m getting things set up in Pasadena, and my space is beginning to feel more like a bedroom than various piles of stuff. I’m looking forward to orientation officially beginning on Tuesday, but am grateful that I have another day to make progress on my apartment. I have successfully assembled a desk, bookcase and dresser by myself–much to the amazement of my roommates. One of my roommates asked what they teach us in Idaho (that would equip me to assemble Ikea furniture unassisted) and I told her that we’re issued a tool box in the hospital when we’re born—and she believed me for a split second.
Thank you for your continued prayers as I step into this new world. I have had moments of exhaustion, excitement, and even a few tearful moments as I’ve thought about the wonderful tribe I’ve had to leave behind. I am so happy to be here, and your support has made it possible.