the staying; the going; the ink

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I wrote lately. I wrote about staying, and I wrote about going.

I wrote that I had learned to stay and now I am learning to go.

I don’t think that’s exactly correct anymore.

I thought this, before. I thought that the last three years were to teach me to stay. Live. Dwell. Befriend faithfulness, Psalm 37 says. Dwell in the land, and befriend faithfulness. I did all that. I was faithful and dwelt contentedly where God had placed me. The last nine months I had focused on going. I thought it was a new lesson. Like a puppy.

Lesson 1: Stay.

Lesson 2: Go.

No. Lesson one is THE lesson.

Go is really great. Go makes packing fun – like a jam session with besties. I wore my girls out packing things into boxes and boxes into my car and I wore me out with putting my car on the road and my home and family into the rearview mirror.

Go carried me all week.

Great, right?

A whole… week.

Yes.

That’s really not very far. After a week I was in Colorado Springs.

“Welcome home,” Anni texted me. “Welcome home,” Tiffany and Elena and Hannah and Afton wrote in their sweet letters.

I hesitated before I said it out loud myself. I would leave work and think “Now I am going… going back to… “

There are several awkward endings to that. “To the house I rent.” “To my bedroom in the basement.” “To the north end of town.” So welcoming, eh?

(Fine. You know what, Coloradans? I do say “Eh” and it’s awesome.)

Then I breathed. Slowly and deeply on low-oxygen air that still burns Minnesota lungs and I said IT. Going home. I’m going home from work. Home from church. Home from Bible Study. Home from hiking on whichever of all the mountains I’ve been scrambling about on.

Home.

Yes.

Home.

I don’t think Go was ever meant to last.

A few times I have caught myself thinking that I am on vacation. I saw a photo by my M’s dad on facebook and the first thing in my mind was “When I get home, I really want to see M right away! … Oh.”

Each time something small like happens I feel a still small voice.

You’re going to think this is like, scripture if I write it like that. Of course I don’t know the future. But I understand the underlying message of this still, small voice.

Stay.

I argue it a little bit in a half-hearted way. (No sane person really argues with staying in the mountains. Okay? Okay.)

But God, my old friends aren’t here. God do you know how deep 13 years of community are? Thief River is my Tribe. Yes, God, that was a capital T.

And I feel it a little deeper.

Stay.

I got it tonight. I think I got it. Part of it. Some small shining nugget that I’ll hold onto until, again, I need to go. 

I am here to stay. To dwell. This is not an experiment. This is not a semester. I am not here to dip my toes in the water, to roll another sip around on my tongue, to analyze the difficulty of the trail. No. I came, and God makes it more clear daily that I came to stay.

It sounds so permanent. It isn’t. I don’t have the foggiest clue when I’ll leave. (Most likely not this month. Anyway.) But until then, I am called to stay. Until then, I am called to dwell: I am called to befriend faithfulness.

How am I staying if I am holding on too tightly to those friendships that have nurtured and challenged me and made me better at ultimate frisbee? How am I staying if I chill listlessly in my comfy chair and wonder how Bible Study is going back home on Tuesdays?

No. Staying is staying fully, and dwelling here, and befriending faithfulness to new friends, new communities, a new church and a new home. A new job. New backyard and new friends. New ideas. New activities and new habits.

That.

That is staying.  

Those last three years are like any chapter in any book. It is closed and ended, but the characters have not gone away completely. The lessons your little protagonist learned will be used and flopped around and forgotten and relearned and worn out and comfortable in the chapters to come. The old has gone and the new has come and they are underscored with the same theme – the staying and the serving God in the everyday – everyday happens everywhere, to everyone. There is no Go farther than everyday.

And so?

I will stay. Dwell.

“Will you ever get a tattoo?” Kiara asked. Her question was nearly as out of the blue as it pops to you in the post. 

“Probably not,” I shrugged.

“But what would it be, if you did?”

“The word Dwell,” I replied.

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An Inception-like idea sprouted. I started to unintentionally recall scores of scriptures that mention dwelling or staying.

John 15: “Abide in me, and I in you.” Abide. Dwell. Remain. Make this place, this community with Christ, your home.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous: do not be afraid, do not be discouraged. The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Wherever you go. With you. Abiding, dwelling, staying beside. God dwells with me.

So I scheduled an appointment. I did a little trail run with a marker on my wrist, and liked it. (Dear Sharpie: Thank you.) No, actually. Not trail run. Trial run. (Mountains got me like: Everything is Hike. My bad.) Mountain-girl mentality aside…

Then one night, before getting tatted, I read Psalms. I read Psalm 37 to remember my lesson and my goal and to smile a little, with God, about our staying. And I read Psalm 42 and Psalm 19 just to get all the favorites, and then I read Psalm 23.

“I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

*deep exhale

Yes. Ooooh so much yes.

I went into that parlor with a gorgeous bestie and a full heart and came out giddy and bandaged and determined not to almost run any red lights by accident, like I did 4-ish times on the way there. I came out biting my lip because it stings when you get your wrist poked with needles and grateful for M’s hand to hold when it hurt to hard and silly-happy about this whole ink thing.

And I came out determined to learn again and keep learning to dwell, to dwell with God as he dwells with me, and to strive for that eternal dwelling.

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