When I was a little girl, my family moved several times. I was naturally introverted, so changing schools was always difficult for me. I remember standing in the door of the classroom clutching my notebook tight to my chest and wishing I could turn and run rather than introduce myself and find a vacant seat. The last time my family moved was at the end of my eighth grade year. We moved to the small farming community of Hale Center and I was both enthralled and intimidated when I realized that most of the students in the school had known each other since their first days of kindergarten or even earlier. Even though the other students were nice to me despite my introverted nature, throughout high school I always felt as though I were still the new kid standing on the edge of the playground watching everyone else from a distance.
There was a sense of community there in that town and in the school that I so longed to be a part of. I wanted to belong. That longing to belong was one of the things that attracted me to my husband – his family had lived and farmed in this community for generations. He had roots and I wanted roots. I wanted to grow up and live in the same place, to know the same people, to raise my children and grandchildren in the same community, and to have the security of roots and the comfort of knowing and being known and loved by others.
Although I married a home town boy, I once more found myself on the outside looking in when I decided to break with tradition and homeschool my children. Despite my longing to belong, my roots were not so deeply planted that their pull on my heart was stronger than my desire to keep my babies home.
The years pass and I find myself still standing on the outside of a group or community more often than in the middle. Even blogging, although I’ve been doing this for a couple of years, I am still timidly publishing my posts intimidated by all these young bloggers who know how to do this so much better than I. I feel like I did the first day of high school basketball when I realized that everyone else had been playing little dribblers for years and already knew all the rules, moves, and techniques of the game. Although it was a sport I thought I would love, I quit the first day. Well, I haven’t quit blogging yet, but I feel as though I’m late to the game and still don’t know all the rules.
But perhaps we all feel like squatters in some way or another. Maybe even the home town folks who know all the players and all the rules still wonder sometimes if the game has changed and no one has informed them.
I was at a party recently with many people I didn’t know and others I hadn’t seen in a long time. As I watched people greet each other and mingle among the guests, I noticed a certain awkwardness in casual conversations and wondered if it was just because I felt awkward or if others weren’t as secure as I seem to assume. But then I met a young man who was an unlikely candidate to put me at ease. Almost immediately he started talking about the gospel. He asked me if I were a believer and the conversation just flowed from there.
It was then that I suddenly realized – this was a community where I belonged! I belong with these imperfect people who walk and talk the gospel. I don’t feel as though I carry well or know how to communicate it well but in this community of gospel believers I am home. And this community reaches across cultures and exists in places we don’t expect to find acceptance. In this gospel community we’re all home town folks. We all belong. We all know and are known. I think in this gospel community I found just a little glimpse of glory – and a taste of home.
I Corinthians 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.