settling: maybe not such a dirty word after all

Walking the miles, singing the blues

Learning to love what God gives to you

 – Brandi Carlile, “Way To You”

Last night I took the dog out under a twilight of dramatic clouds. As I waited for him to sniff the entire row of pine trees in search of the perfect place to do his business, I turned back towards the house, now outlined with the last traces of the setting sun. For some reason it took my breath away as beautiful.

And I was suddenly struck with the realization that this was My Place, my chosen corner of the earth.

Lately I’ve been reading all sorts of interesting things about the information and sensory overload facing us in the digital age. We can’t read it all (“The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re Going To Miss Almost Everything”). We can’t do/see/learn it all, as this essay describes in respect to today’s generation of young adults, whom the author calls “possibility junkies”:

Its members have a spectacular hunger for life and more life. They want to study, travel, make friends, make more friends, read everything (superfast), take in all the movies, listen to every hot band, keep up with everyone they’ve ever known. And there’s something else, too, that distinguishes them: They live to multiply possibilities. They’re enemies of closure. For as much as they want to do and actually manage to do, they always strive to keep their options open, never to shut possibilities down before they have to.

Yet regardless of age, part of our challenge in discerning vocation means that we have to close certain doors. We cannot live there and here. We cannot marry him and him. We cannot work there and there. Life is shaped by limitations, carved by the choices we make.

Gazing up at the outline of my house against the summer sky last night, I realized that this is the first childhood home of my babies. This is where they take their first steps, speak their first words, learn to explore the world around them. This is not just a starter house or a pit stop on the way to somewhere better; this is a sacred space.

Many days my house drives me nuts. It’s too small. It’s not well-designed for a young family. It has too many things to fix. While I recognize that we are incredibly fortunate to have a roof over our heads, I still grumble about the not-quite-rightness of our house. I dream of the next house, the bigger house, the house with a real office for my work and a bedroom for each baby.

But this is the house I have today. This is the home I have been given. This is the life we are creating for ourselves.

Learning to love the life that God gives to you means celebrating this path, these choices, without indulging in too many daydreams of how it could have been different. And realizing that we are the sum of our choices, but we are also something more – something mysterious and unknowable, and that is the proof of God’s hand at work in our lives.

As I drifted off to sleep last night, I listened to the night noises, the house creaking into its foundations.  The sounds of its settling reminded me that I’m slowly doing the same.

And despite the connotations the word might have conjured up for me a decade ago – the shudder of resigned acceptance of something less than ideal – I begin to see that “settling in” does not have to equal “giving up.” Instead it means that I am settling in to the life God gives to me, which lets me put down roots and push up shoots.

There’s a beauty, a fruitfulness, a grace in that kind of settling.

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