In all things that matter

I recently heard someone respond to the question "How are you?" by saying, "Good in all the things that matter."  I think that I would like to say the same.  Contentment is a constant struggle; when I do reach it, it's generally short-lived.  Ask me my opinion on something one day and my answer will be different than the following day.  It's always a matter of perspective for me.  I recently had one of those good days, in which I am reminded of the privileges and opportunities I have to live here.  One in which we don't have to live here, but we choose to.   Where we are not just tenants but are part of a community.  Where we're here not to make a nice, comfortable home for ourselves, because we're all really just tent-dwellers anyway.  There is only one place we can permanently settle, whose builder and maker is God.

There has been a great change in my heart and attitude as God has been opening up my eyes and mind and heart and spirit to this place.  The community here has walked with us through the past almost-five years now.  People say to Ellis all the time, "I knew you before you were born!" We've become friends with unlikely people.  We give gifts and receive them.  We talk about politics and the weather.  We celebrate birthdays, Chinese New Year, Christmas, and all sorts of holidays we never knew about or they didn't know about.  Our kids play together and share bowls of ice cream.  We hold the elevators for each other, even when we're in a hurry.  People ask us what happened if they didn't see us running in the morning.  We study the Bible together.  We've learned to greet people in a half dozen languages.  We welcome the newcomers.  We've grown roots in this concrete structure.  And for now, I can put it on the record to say that for the first time in awhile,  I am not drawn to live in another building or neighborhood.  I choose to be "stuck" here, even on the days when I don't like it, even if it's not the perfect childhood we dreamed of for Ellis.   Even when we don't act like the perfect neighbors and don't have the perfect neighbors.

Now that all this is settling down deep in my heart, my focus turns to dwelling well.   I want to use these roots we've grown to give off glimpses of Jesus to the people we share life with every day, even in the very small things.  We want to be, as John Piper puts it, salty and bright.  Our times here are in his hands.

There's good days and there's bad days.  Bad days are bad days not because of the things that really matter, but because I choose to let the other things take up too much space in my heart.  Contentment comes and goes, but thankfully, God's goodness to me never does.  The things that really matter never leave.  They follow me everywhere.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, 
and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.  
-Psalm 23:6

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