Usually in my blog posts I’m trying to think about some theological or religious or ministry issue. This time, it’s more personal. This move to Dallas has me rattled in unexpected ways.
I’m a preacher’s kid. Preachers’ kids and “army brats” have something in common. We moved a lot as kids. I think these experiences give us a sense of rootlessness that people who grew up in the same place have a hard time understanding. In high school I remember feeling very envious of my friends who had known each other since kindergarten.
We’ve been in Winfield 14 years. Our kids all graduated from Winfield High School. Three of the four are or have been students at Southwestern College (one “escaped” to the U. of Kansas). While I wasn’t looking, I developed roots. And now I’m pulling them up and trying to re-plant them in Dallas.
To clarify: I’m not surprised about the grief I feel about leaving SC and Winfield. SC is a great place to work and the community (in the theological sense) is precious to us. At the same time, I’m excited about the job at SMU. I’m getting acquainted with my new colleagues and looking forward eagerly to working with them. I’m confident God has called me to this new work.
What has me rattled is the lifestyle change that is challenging my sense of self. I like to call myself a hayseed. I grew up in very remote, rural places and small towns. I’m not really a farm boy, but I went to school with them, stayed over at their houses, drove tractors and hauled hay and cut wheat with them. I’ve spent a fair amount of time horseback and working cattle.
So, this move to Dallas has the feel of the country boy moving to the big city. Coming home from a house-hunting trip to Dallas a couple of weeks ago, I was talking with Joni about the challenge to my sense of self this move was engendering. I started thinking about her dad, who, except for a stint in the Army, lived in the same rural area his entire 89 year life.
Even as I write this blog, I struggle for the appropriate terms. I like to think of myself in a certain way, but it’s probably not very accurate. Thus, at a deeper level I am coming to terms with myself in this move. I’m kind of embarrassed to realize that people who know me understand it better than I do myself, though isn’t it often the case that others see us more clearly than we do ourselves?
I’m beginning to get it. In some fundamental, near-visceral way, this move to Dallas – and to the new ministry – is a mysteriously providential fit. Still, it challenges my sense of self. Clarity is sometimes a scary thing.