My surrogate writer, Jen Hatmaker, again took the words out of my gut. This time in Interrupted (pp. 72-3): “The path of descent becomes our own liberation. We are freed from the exhausting stance of defense. We are no longer compelled to be right and are thus relieved from the burden of maintaining some reputation. We are released from the idols of greed, control, and status. The pressure to protect the house of cards is alleviated when we take the lowest place.”
Home has been Los Angeles and St. Louis. In the burbs, of course. But big, nonetheless.
For so long, especially in the machinations of megachurch world, I longed to be known. To grow a ministry. To get noticed. To amass a Twitter following (using Jesus to do so, but fully expecting them to follow and probably worship me, to be honest). To answer the call from the unknown number and–FINALLY!!–an invitation to speak at _________ conference or _________ church. I could’ve filled that blank with so many names, sexy names.
Enter rural life.
There’s no being known, except for the people you see face-to-face. Mainly because they’ve been burned on Facebook and only engage the faces in front of them. Rural doesn’t care about Twitter–most don’t even know what it is and are suspicious when you use the word.
“Hey Earl, you see that tweet?” “Boy, why you talkin’ bout birds? You wantin’ to go huntin’?” (There are no g’s on the ends of words in rural)
Rural has been healing for my spotlight-hungry, bigger/better/brighter soul.
There’s little to defend in rural. It’s rare that anyone is on the offensive. It happens, but not much. About as often as I see the horseman riding down Highway 19. There’s no need to project an image. People can tell if you care. And if they can’t tell, they don’t care. Success shmess. No house of cards to protect here.
You can still be an arrogant, prideful jerk in rural. But it’s harder. The feeling of superiority you get at the local grocer eventually becomes shame that you feel such things, and you (I) start pondering what stories those faces are hiding (and drowning out with copious amounts of Mountain Dew). See, even that was judgment. But seriously, nobody needs that much devil’s brew.
I’m not fully recuperated and don’t expect to be this side of the River Jordan. Jesus is still working. He’s saving me from myself. Rural has been an irreplaceable agent of sanctification and has provided the space needed for recuperation.
I feel bad for the Spirit. How agonizing it must be to humble me without killing me. I’ve been prideful for as long as I can remember. Mostly out of insecurity. Terribly insecure. Terrified of not being smart or witty or fit–house of cards.
By the power of the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead and the sweet patience of my bride, I have hopes that humility might stick. I feel like things would get pretty nasty if I started trying to climb the ladder again.
This post is what happens when my wife says, go take some time to yourself. Thanks, babe.