Years ago, I read an article in a Reader’s Digest magazine that really struck a chord with me. I ripped that article out of the magazine and filed it away … holding the idea close to my heart because it resonated with my soul.
The article was written in 1999. That’s the year that Joy was born so …. I first read that article when we lived in Bainbridge, Georgia. We moved there right after Glory’s birthday in August and right before Joy’s birth in September. My parents live within 30 minutes of the home that we rented. I felt like I had finally “moved home” though I was not raised in Bainbridge.
Our front yard was a pecan grove
and our backyard was a field that was planted in corn, peanuts, cotton
or soft winter wheat that whispered gold in the gusty spring wind just before harvest.
I felt like I lived a dream in that ancient old farm-house that sat in a clearing atop a small hill.
And as we shopped for a home to buy almost ten years ago, I remembered that article. I knew we had to choose our home carefully.
Mark Harris shares in his article that he and his wife chose their home with great intention. He talks about moving often as a child and says, “Our transient lifestyle offered a grand upbringing, but it came at a cost.”
His wife was offered a job in a dying steel town, so they moved from Chicago with the intention to be still. Mark wanted his kids to start and finish school at the same elementary school and carry friendships on to finish high school. He wanted to focus on building community with neighbors.
He talks of the jewels of the town like wonderful parks and a folk-music club that draws fabulous acts. And he says, “Where we found good places, we found good people.”
And I think this is life. When we chose to invest ….
when we chose to stay and search for beauty …
when we look for good things … like good people and places
we find them.
Sometimes we do the opposite what our parents did because we feel our parents did things wrong. Mark chose to be still, in part, because his family moved often. I’ve known plenty of people who were born and raised in the same small town. Sometimes, when a child doesn’t have the chance to move, he becomes restless and wants to “get out” or “get away.” And then there are those children who have moved so many times that they feel they have no hometown. They have no grounding.
In reality, we as parents have to do what we believe is best for our children at the time. We will make mistakes. But, every child grows to be an adult taking with them childhood messes to work through. This is part of life and part of maturing. In Maya Angelou’s words, “Do the best you can until you know better. And when you know better, do better.”
At the time that we bought our home in Augusta ten years ago,
my oldest child was 16 and had lived in 15 different houses.
Glory was 14 and had lived in 14 homes.
Montclair offered Joy her third bedroom.
When I found myself on the verge of becoming a single mom, I knew there was one thing that I didn’t want to do; I knew I did not want to move. With all the turmoil that happens with divorce, another home would not help us heal. We needed remain be still.
I thought about Mark Harris … and the last line of his article,
“There is no more basic commitment than staying put.”
So, I signed the dotted line to say that I would take full responsibility for our home. I would pay every tax and house payment. I would cut every blade of grass, paint every wall and repair everything that ever breaks – large or small.
And I have learned so much by being in this home.
God has used it to teach me so much. I’ve learned about community and found comfort in knowing that I could be HOURS from home on an out-of-town trip but can call a neighbor long after mid-night and say, “I’m out-of-town. Glory has never been to the emergency room alone. Would you mind going down to hold her hand? She’s very nervous.” I’ve watched God show me how to do things that I NEVER would have thought possible, like repairing a hole in my roof. And I’ve learned about God offering what I need when I need, like the brawn of a man with strength that helped me replace my kitchen sink.
I’ve written before (here and here) about how much I love my neighborhood. Part of why I love it is because I have chosen to stay. I have chosen to invest. I have looked for the good and the beauty and the joy and found it.
But, staying here hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s been a very hard thing. Taking care of the inside of the house, the outside of the house, the repairs and the bills WHILE being the only parent on the premises … the taxi, the bread-winner, the chef and the organizer … is exhausting.
Even so, if I had to do it again, I’d take the same route. I’d choose to stay.
I’d choose to remain still so we could focus on healing.
I would choose to look for the good and beauty in the place and the people.
This basic commitment … has been a very good decision.
And I’ve done the best I can.
It has been the hardest thing … that I’m so glad I did.
I don’t know what the future holds.
I don’t know how long I can afford to stay here.
But, as long as we can, we will remain.