I miss having my own house. My own home. A place where I don’t have to worry about what people are going to say when they discover my daughter has written “I love you” in orange marker all over her bedroom wall. And on the window frame. And on the inside of the kitchen cabinet door. A place where I can paint the kitchen any color I want without getting permission from a larger group of people who may then want to give input into the shade of blue I’m talking about – and who will have every right to make the final decision because it’s their house. I’m simply living there.
Maybe this is what every tenant feels about their landlord – but in my perspective, our place is unique. Not only do we not own the house, but most of our resources are provided through the goodwill of others. My husband’s salary wouldn’t be paid if not for the voluntary giving of others. Our electricity, water, and heating oil are paid for by those same voluntary givers. Our needs are provided for by the grace of others.
And what to we offer in return? Our presence. The security of knowing that if a crisis happens, people know where to find us. This is the third parsonage we’ve lived in, and over the years we’ve had people knock on our door for gas money, for help finding a mechanic, for food, for clothing, for help recovering from a fire, for emergency assistance, for counseling, for shelter, for reassurance, for comfort, for new insights, for guidance, for grace.
My husband may not see his worship attendance swell on Sunday morning, and we may not meet or even be aware of every person in the community – but they know who we are. They know where we live. They see us around town. They know we are here.
It feels like living in a fish bowl, especially since we live on the corner of two busy roads. It scares me, knowing that we have young children and people are watching them as well as me and my husband. It’s not where I would’ve ever chosen to bring my family and live, and yet this is where we are.