I have left home before, I've said goodbye to my parents and my brother and my grandparents. But I have never been a part of a fellowship like the one at First Baptist and I have certainly never had to say goodbye to it. Not to say that churches I've attended before were not where God wanted me or were not inhabited by amazing individuals because they were. God has always faithfully provided friends and fellowship, but things are different at FBC. The people are a body more vibrantly colored... They, collectively, are centered on Jesus and on living in His love. Before Gabe left we had already seen this difference in our small group. People were interested in deeper things, unsatisfied with only "milk" as Hebrews talks about. They were open to new relationships even though they had been attending the church for years. When one family in the group needed direction or wanted to rejoice we prayed together - and I mean we really prayed - on our knees, for hours at a time. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. When Gabe left I was folded into the fellowship, regarded by those who hardly knew me, because of my hour of need and because I was able to assimilate into service with them. I felt exactly as any Christian should in any Christian fellowship: this was family.
Needless to say, leaving is hard. Gabe returned home a couple months ago and in that short time he's become just as attached to the people (especially the teens) as I have. Even the excitement of school wasn't enough to keep either of us from wanting with everything in us to stay. We prayed to stay and we hoped, but it seems God wanted us to leave. Maybe we were growing too attached... Maybe we're more useful somewhere else... Maybe God wants to grow us in ways He couldn't there... Maybe if we stayed it would have worked out in a way we couldn't see... At the end of the day the maybes add up as zeroes and we are still faced with reality. And the reality is that for some reason we are a thousand miles away from what we have come to call home.
By the way, the youth at FBC are going places. If you've been waiting for the remnant, look out, I think they're here.
So here we are! While the Northwest is not as foreign as the Southeast, it is still a new experience. Additionally we are now city-dwellers which provides an entire paradigm we had yet to be acquainted with. For example, in the city you must find parking which is neither too expensive nor too far away. This can be tricky so you end up kissing quarters when you find them because the hungry meter gets to eat and you get to avoid a ticket. Also, along the lines of greeting pocket change inappropriately, laundry requires copious amounts of it. I was unaware that a load of laundry was reasonably costing any human being $2.25 in "QUARTERS ONLY" - though perhaps my mistake is in assuming it is reasonable. Either way I am finding that money does make the world go round, specifically the small, round, metal variety.
As a side, it is a bit nice to know that the laundry machines and the meters are not too pretentious; I could wave a hundred dollar bill in front of either of them all day long and they would hold their integrity by refusing service until I broke that bill into the correct and exact change.
This new life should provide some time (and material) for narrative so, fingers crossed, I'll be posting more often... And maybe, just maybe, my new street-smarts will help some lonely non-city person city-dweller... Well, really I don't care so much about that, but since my social life is now entirely online I suppose I should reach for such pious heights lest I become a Facebook stalker or one of those people who goes into chat rooms just to argue against whatever the group is representing despite her own opinions ("No, saving whales is a tremendous waste of time. You are all kelp huggers."). Oh dear....