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19 12 2008

I’m blogging from my hometown of Arvada, Colorado while sipping the cheapest cup of coffee at Panera, which happens to be $1.85 including tax.

Panera has free wireless internet, the reason for my visit. I’m typing on a cheap laptop I probably won’t keep, and there’s a borrowed cell phone in my pocket. I’m sure that, for all practical purposes, I look to everyone else in the restaurant like I fit in perfectly.

But I can’t help but think how much my life has changed from a year ago, because this feels so foreign to me.

So many things that used to seem ordinary now seem remarkable: Being able to drive to the grocery store in less than five minutes for a missing ingredient. More places to shop besides Wal-Mart, and three (count ’em, three) nearby Wal-Marts with virtually no lines at the checkstand. Roads that are paved, plowed and de-iced. Coffee shops everywhere.

I feel so torn. On the one hand, just being here makes me ache to stay. Regardless of which I like better, this is the place that for all but six months of my entire life I have called home.

But it’s amazing how much changes in six months. For all the conveniences of a place like this, I find myself longing for the solitude of the forest outside my front door at home. As happy as I am to see so many friends and family, I find myself missing dinnertime with just my wife and children around our tiny round table.

I wish I could have both.

My favorite thing about sitting in a place like Panera is being able to watch the people. So many people, and such diversity. I can’t help but wonder about their lives and the day that each will have today.

A group of women are gathered nearby. They’ve pulled some tables together and swiped extra chairs from the surrounding tables. They seem to be having a great time catching up over bagels and tea.

Another older woman just got up from her table in tears, hurrying from the restaurant before making a scene. Her cell phone was at her ear, and I heard her sob as she walked out the door, “I just don’t understand why you would talk to me that way.” I wanted to cry for her. No one deserves to be sad or treated poorly at Christmastime.

A man sits by himself, sipping coffee and reading the paper. Maybe he’s enjoying being alone. Maybe he’s lonely.

Watching the people reminds me how much people matter to me. That is perhaps the biggest change. There are people in my new town, but I interact with very few. That doesn’t feel right to me. Do I need to find ways to interact with the people in my new home? Should I be doing something to impact the people back here? I don’t know. People here seem so desperate to be impacted. Just holding the door open for others on my way into Panera seems to shock and amaze them, as if it’s astounding for someone else to have voluntarily acknowledged their existence.

This is the kind of day where I find myself reevaluating everything. It’s the kind of day when I ask myself questions like, “What am I doing?” and “What does all of this mean?” and “What is God saying to me?”

It’s a conflict of emotions, perhaps the hardest thing for me to handle. It’s easy to just be happy or to just be sad. While I’m thrilled to be home, it also makes me ache to be here, and I’m not sure why.

I think about the many hopes and dreams I have for myself, for my wife, and for my children. There are things I am confident I was put on this earth to accomplish. And it’s tough, because I know that I will accomplish few of them in a place like Pine Haven, New Mexico. But there are other things that I wonder if I could accomplish anyplace BUT Pine Haven, New Mexico. The question is the timing. What does God want me to be doing right now?

I don’t know. The only way to discern will be to pray and to spend time in the Word seeking God’s wisdom.

But for today, I live in the conflict and in the unknown. Where is home? Right now the answer is easy, because my home traveled with me to Denver and will travel back with me to New Mexico next month. And yet, this place both feels like home and doesn’t feel like home. Where should home be? Where should home be next year? I don’t know. That’s the unknown.

My coffee is gone and today’s plans beckon, so off I go. God, please use today as You see fit to shape my family, our lives, and our future.

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6 responses

19 12 2008
Todd Newton

I’m actually surprised at how much holding the door for someone will garner a reaction. As I’ve told Micah (countless times), one of my teachers in High School in California drilled into my head that I should hold the door (especially for a woman) regardless of how far she is away as a matter of courtesy (I got a lashing from this teacher for not doing it, hence the drilling). It’s this same when I unlock Micah’s door and let her in the car first… people just don’t DO that anymore so it’s like I’m some kind of alien.

I don’t think I could live in a rural area again. I like having all of the options that the Denver/Boulder metros provide. Honestly, as badly as I am with people, it is really nice to be able to interact with them on a regular basis. Even though Salt Lake is a pretty “big” city, I never interacted with very many people so it was a pretty lonely place to live. In Denver, people actually talk to you, like strangers at the Blockbuster or in line for coffee. I love it here, so I can totally relate.

19 12 2008
Jenn

I miss you! Would you text me and maybe we could get a cup of coffee together before you leave??? 414-217-9014.

PS… my dad says hi! :)~

20 12 2008
Mom2

I figure I better stay out of it. God does His best work without me in the way!

21 12 2008
Granny

Dear Rob, high on my list of favorite grandsons – in -law, I have an observation. Grandad agrees with my observation. Much as we would miss you and your family, we doubt that you would ever grow to love New Mexico for this reason When we first moved here 35 years ago I read a description of New Mexicans. It said,” New Mexicans don’t mind if you move here, but leave them alone, they don’t particularly want to interact with you.” We found this sort of true. When we moved here we had alot of relatives that are mostly gone now but they were our friends so we we have been very happy here. You are a wonderful, outgoing man who loves people – talking to them, interacting with them, helping them, etc. We doubt that you would ever be truly happy here with this New Mexican attitude. This is just an observation and we could be entirely wrong. Seek God. We know you will.

21 12 2008
Leah (kingschild)

Bear with me as I wax philosophical: I think so much of this is a matter of perspective. Yours has changed in the past few months. Your world has gotten smaller, and I think that can often magnify what you can see in others. Your focus has been so much on your family (and rightfully so) that it allowed you to see nuances you might not have before. Now you can keep that lens as you look outward – your observations at Panera. However, I think that God can use you anywhere you live – look at us: we’ve talked more in the past few months since you moved than in the last 5 or 6 years. So while I really do love you and Liesl and wish you could stay so I can get to know your kiddos, I think that no matter where you go, you will make friends and see into people’s lives – and have an impact.

23 12 2008
Granny

P. S. to my comment, There are an awful lot of people in Gallup and New Mexico that aren’t from New Mexico , of course – you all and us, for instance!!

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