I have made no secret about the fact that I’m a tiny bit obsessed with the Sorta Awesome podcast. I started listening at the beginning, almost exactly a year ago, right after we moved to Grand Rapids. The podcast has kept me company during our year of transition.
Last week was the one year anniversary of our big move, and I wrote about what I’ve learned and how I’m reconsidering how I think about and define home. Imagine my surprise and delight (a divine coincidence, I think) when the most recent episode of Sorta Awesome was all about the places we call home, and how they shape the people we become. Megan & Kelly talked about culture, stereotypes, climate, and people, and how each of those factors change us in myriad ways, seen and unseen.
Megan and Kelly’s conversation was inspired by Sarah Bessey‘s saying that the plains of Western Canada mirror the open space and exploration she has needed to thrive throughout her life. Sarah said, “In so many areas of our lives, we sort of live our metaphors pretty effortlessly at times. For me, I’ve found that…I like a bit of room.” Kelly and Megan then shared how their homes reinforced the predominant metaphors of their lives: how the extreme and ever-changing seasons in Minnesota teach Kelly about her need for variety and transformation, and how the “boom and bust” economies of Oklahoma remind Megan of the ups and downs of her own experience.
As I listened to the podcast, it struck me that Megan, Kelly, and Sarah have all moved around quite a bit. I wonder if that gives them each a greater appreciation for the lessons their hometowns have to teach? Before moving to Michigan, I had lived in Florida for my entire life, and I wonder if the extreme familiarity of it dulled me to this reality.
I’ve spent so much time rethinking place and home this year, and it seems that my mind and heart are now awake to a whole new sphere of spirituality. Just like pregnancy and childbirth helped me see God in a different light, living in Michigan unveiled a whole new channel God is using to reach my heart. I just love the idea that the places we inhabit have something to teach us about our very lives. Our spiritual and emotional experiences are not separate from our physical lives (whether those of our own bodies or the surrounding physical environment).
I am looking back on Florida’s summertime thunderstorms, so consistent you can set your watch by them. I am thinking about what that teaches me about God’s presence. I’m thinking about how He provided for Evan and I in the first few years of our marriage–without fail, consistent, reliably. I’ve learned that while God is mysterious and sometimes surprising, He is not erratic or capricious.
And now I’m thinking about Michigan’s seasons: how we watched the earth spring to life, slowly brown and fade, fall silent under the weight of the snow and ice, and now slowly bloom and green again. Moving meant we needed to walk away from so many good and life-giving things; I felt loneliness and uncertainty, but I am recognizing signs of new life. And let’s not forget that I gave birth to a baby boy just as winter descended. God speaks, breathes, and shines no matter the season.
Our old pastor used to say, “God cares less about what you’re doing and more about who you’re becoming.” It’s probably also true that God cares less about where I’m living and more about who I’m becoming. I think that we are in Michigan, in part, because I needed to experience God afresh, and He’ll use the climate or economy or neighborhood or whatever it takes to meet me, teach me, transform me.
It’s a metaphor I’m happy to uncover and eager to live in to.