Sunday, January 15, 2017
Hello. I am Dave Swensen. In this blog, I will not pretend to know all of the answers along the way. I have made some huge mistakes during my journey. But I may be further down the road than some of you. I hope you will be blessed and check in from time to time.
So let's begin. Are you unsettled or lonely? Do you have a place to call home? Is it where you grew up? Where you live now? Your workplace? Your work truck, gym, church, school? Maya Angelou said, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
A few years ago I was feeling quite unsettled. We were in the midst of moving our family of seven (plus three cats and a dog) from one city to another. We had stayed in that previous house for longer than we had been anywhere. To make matters worse, the rental house we stayed in, between homes, was foreclosed upon while we were living there. Upon arriving in this new town, we wondered if this really could be home. None of us were fully convinced. Just because you are living somewhere, does that necessarily make it your home?
I was meditating on this concept of "home," and I went to our church's annual Men's Retreat. During some free time, I was playing piano in the main meeting area. My friend Tony was playing electric guitar, Joseph was on base and Ken was standing watch and listening. Memories of years playing on our worship team and serving the youth came flooding in. As tears filled my eyes, I thought, "This is the only home I've got." I was with old friends who were doing what they did. And it felt like home.
So our home can be with others. Take some time today to reflect on those you value on earth and consider if you feel "at home" around them. Genesis 1 shows God creating the world in phases. Many times He saw that his creations were "good" (Gen. 1:4,10,12,18,21, and 25) When Adam was alone in the garden, God said for the first time it was "not good" that Adam was alone. Then God added Eve to Adam's world (perhaps saving what was truly best for last ;) ) He called this union "very good." God did not want Adam to be alone. And he doesn't want you to be alone either. The love of a friend can be worth more than all of the possessions in the world. Song of Solomon 8:7 says it this way, "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised." This kind of intimacy cannot be bought. It is invaluable. Proverbs 17:17 says it this way. "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Is this simple? Yes. Is it easy? No. It will require risk. To be intimate requires vulnerability, but it is necessary for life in your relationships. Otherwise, we are just living instead of thriving. One way to look at intimacy is allowing others to see the real you. A play in words says: Intimacy requires into-me-see or see-into-me.
I was not really close with another person as a child. My siblings were seven or more years older than me. So I remember spending a lot of my time alone. I remember building forts for two opposing armies and having pretend battles in the woods back behind our house. I found joy in comic books and horror fiction. But there was not much relational "intimacy" until I hit college. I got real with a few of my friends and I met regularly with a staff member from Campus Crusade for Christ. Our meetings were simple. He asked me what I was learning, and he told me what he was learning. A simple exercise that led to some pretty awesome conversations. These new relationships laid a pretty good foundation that led me into a marriage with pretty healthy communication habits.
Again in Genesis, when disobedience entered the picture, one of the consequences was that Adam and Eve lost their garden. They were cast out of the only home they had known until then. They not only lost their home, but their relationship with God was forever changed as well. But we can look at that in a blog yet to come.
So, how are you? My prayer is that you are blessed with healthy relationships. When I talk along these lines, perhaps no one comes to your mind. You draw a blank. Or maybe you have just ended a long relationship and you feel bitter or jaded when I bring up the idea of forging a new friendship (or friendships). Possibly you have been trying to numb your personal pain, hitting the "reality ejection seat" with a buzz, an outright high or various sexual exploits. Well ... that proverbial hole in your heart will not be filled by anyone except God. No matter what despondent situation you are in, lift up your eyes. God can. He is faithful. He is in the redeeming business.
Consider seeking out a church family or other healthy Christian friendships and be real with them. Allow them to be honest and real with you as well. "You've got to be a friend to make a friend." God bless you as you search out new healthy relationships or solidify the ones you’ve got.