Content being a suburban idealist

I love cities…I think it’s because I love people and there is no shortage of people in cities. I love the energy in cities. I love the sounds. I love the bustle. I love the diversity. I love the density. Sure, this can all get old, but for the most part it gives me energy and makes me feel alive. 

In God’s great irony, we’ve been living in the country. You can check out Jen’s last post to hear more about mice and dead goats…yeah we live in the country. I do like it out here…but I don’t think I survive for very long without more people around. But here we are…in the county. Allergies going nuts: sneezing, itching, and nose running.

We’ve been in Portland for a week now and we haven’t been able to get towards the city until today. We’re operating with what I call our ‘wartime rations’ and we’re not about to drive the 20 miles to downtown at 4.25 a gallon…just not going to happen. We got bills to pay…and we’ll be moving into a city again soon enough! I’m trying to enjoy where I’m at…but I’ve never been too good at this. 

I’m cursed with always being a year ahead of now in my mind. This can be a really good thing sometime, but not always. I’m not always the best at being present. This doesn’t bug me too much until I realize how doing this hurts the present and the relationships that are happening now (usually it’s my loving wife that points this out too). For those of us that are a mile ahead, we need to realize that relationship is lived in the present and that it is relationships that are greatest gift we are given. People who knew me in Paris would laugh (i.e. scoff) that this is me saying this because I was guilty of not being present for a long season of our time there….for reasons that I’ve only now come to really get. 

I read a book a couple of years ago called Practicing the Presence of People by Mike Mason. It was a challenge to me. The premise was to slow down and really soak up the presence of another created being and not miss a chance to really see them, to really know them, to really enjoy their quirks, and to really look into their eyes. To realize that every person is a gift…a poem as Ephesians 2 says…crafted by God to bring Him pleasure. When we think this way it changes everything. But trying to do this in my relationships with people has influenced how I’m learning to be grateful for every ‘present’ that I’m in. I’m experiencing that every moment in my life is a gift designed to help me grow or to teach me to humbly receive grace that God has gifted me with. 

God willing, it won’t be long before we’re back living in Europe. We’ll be back to the city. Back to the streets. Back to the noise that became home. Back to foreign languages and foods. Back to metro rides. Back to brick and cement and concrete. Back to hordes of people crowding on the bus. Back to walking for transportation. Back to carrying our groceries home. Back to getting bread from the local shop. Back to small apartments and lots of stairs. Back to the sound of scooters screaming by. Back to the set that my life was meant to be played on.   

But for the next few weeks I am determined to soak up the beauty of the Oregon countryside…some of the most beautiful land on earth in my humble opinion. I am determined to enjoy my friends and family here as much as I can. To not get caught up in the worries that are around every tomorrow…but to slow down and take in where I am at. There is too much beauty, promise, and hope in this place to not enjoy being the suburban idealist for a time. 

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  1. Christine on June 17, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    aaaaah. and in my heart of hearts i am envious of your ‘present’. what i would give to live in the country, waking up to opportunities to step outside and feel the brisk cool air, and hear the silence broken only by the resident birds. aaaaah. sweet envy.

  2. Jamie on June 17, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Thank you for this post, Justin. I could feel my spirit calming simply by reading it. It is a true gift to be able to live in the “right now”.

  3. Christine on June 18, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Oh yeah…this post wasn’t about me. I concur with Jamie. It IS a gift to live in the ‘right now’, and while you are clamoring for the city, I’m grateful you and fam are where you are right now. There I am….back to me again :-).

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