Life Altering Changes
In February 2010, there were two events which changed the course of my life. The first was finding out my wife Brittany was pregnant with Reid, our first child. The second was the next day, when we moved into our first home, which we lived in for six years.
Now it may seem I’m over stating the importance of these events. After all, these are normal events in the life of most. Yes, they are important and special, but not unique, and in most ways quite ordinary, to which I would respond “precisely,” because these were the days that I settled. In buying a home and having children, I was leaving my perceived life of flexibility to settle in for the long haul.
Before this, I had been in school for twenty-five consecutive years, had been married four years, and we were making our third move. I traveled often on weekends, stayed out late and up late with friends, spent money only on myself, and was searching for something that I could do that would change the world.
Settling for Something Better
Yet unbeknownst to me, I made decisions that altered my thoughts about changing the world. I perceived the decision to begin having children and to buy a house as the next steps in changing the world, but what I had really made the decision to do was to lay down roots. It was a decision to settle. Not to settle and give up my desires, future, and happiness, but to settle into an adult life of regularity, normalcy and the ordinary. I would never have chosen this life, but thankfully God prepared this grace for me before the ages. I gave up my perceived options of freedom to settle into a life of regularity.
This decision has brought me more freedom and happiness than I could have ever known. The great thing about the good life and settling down is that with everything you lose, you gain more than you would have chosen. I went from wanting to change the world in important places and ways to realizing that more world changing happens daily in my house than I ever thought possible. Daily times of reading, prayer, meals, baseball throwing and hitting, playing with toys animals, trips to the zoo, cleaning the house, making a budget, shopping for kids clothes, trying new recipes, and talking in bed at night or early in the morning while the kids sleep is changing the world because there are fives lives, (and by the end of the year six), being formed and shaped in these moments.
Changing the World Daily
We are formed and shaped not so much in each individual moment, but in their quantity and regularity. Tuesday and Wednesday are important and shape us because they are gifts from God. God created days. He calls them days and gives us callings and tasks for each one. For me to think this contributes less to changing the world is to miss much of the good things God created and gives as blessing.
In trying to take dominion or to make an impact, we get caught up in only seeing the world in the grand narrative, but we are made to live life on the ground, while staying ever mindful of the grand narrative. Thus taking dominion for an individual is filled with lots of small, ordinary, and monotonous work. Filling the earth with seven billion people requires two people committing their lives solely to each other and having children, which if they are so blessed by God, will be around ten people on the high end. That’s our contribution to filling the earth. Out of the billions here and that have existed, God has seen fit to use me and my wife to bring three into world and hopefully a few more.
But how blessed am I in that? How blessed am I that I have the privilege to give and spend my life married to this one person? How blessed am I that out of the billions that have lived and will live, God would grant me these three children to give and spend my life with? My hands are so filled with blessing, responsibility and joy that I wonder if I really knew how blessed I am or if I could take anymore?
A Place to Serve
My desires to bring change in the world haven’t changed a bit. But in settling down, I now have an actual place in which to serve the Lord. Previously, I dreamed of serving, but the place was only an idea. Now the place is in my home with my three children and wife. Before settling, there were no faces to the people I wanted to help. Now I see them everyday and every week in my home, and in my extended family, friends, and church here in my small Mississippi town.
An ordinary and settled life isn’t always happy feelings and big moments, but is filled with the emotions and moments that make life what it is in God’s world. It’s a life filled with fun and laughter. It has growth and maturity. It knows failure, frustration, and sadness. It has high times of joy and celebration, and normal times on Tuesday night. It knows the travails and joys of life and will know more because the longer roots settle, the deeper they grow and the more places they touch.