Monday, May 16, 2011

Part 1: From Ice Cream to Chicken

"Ya-Ya want to get ice creeeeeeeeam?" My nephew's two-year-old plea is too joyful to refuse, and so we go -- the four adults, the two twin toddlers, and one baby in utero -- to get, as Micah calls it, "ice creeeeeeeeam."

We have lived together for two years and two weeks exactly, in a row house in South Philadelphia. Our family life has settled into an easy, knowable, and comfortable rhythm.

We call ourselves an "Un-Intentional Community." Yes, we live in community -- sharing common space and lives. But we have no shared structured discipleship or vision for the surrounding neighborhood. We just live and see God working out the discipleship on His own: the Sunday night debriefs about life and ministry, the hymns sung after dinner with the baby boys, the prayers together and requests for intercession, the bearing of one another's burdens.

But on this one night, out for ice cream, we realize it is the last night. We don't really dwell on it, but instead blissfully laugh together as the twins dip their faces into the cups of ice cream, white beards forming on their small faces.

The next day -- after the packing is over, after the moving is complete -- it hits us all, one by one. And suddenly, it is very hard to process.

There is no book of rules for living in community. Well, ok. Actually, there are plenty, but what I mean is that living in community (un-intentional or intentional) is like any other relationship. Each has its own quirks, its own joys, its own idiosyncrasies. I can't tell you what should be done for every single community. But what I can tell you is that leave-taking should have its place. It is very different to move out of a private apartment after a two-year lease and leaving a two-year community. I was treating the latter like the former, and the result was nearly devastating. If I were to do it all over again, I would have made it a priority to articulate the blessings that came from the last two years to each person. I would have made a point to say goodbye -- not in the craziness of the move, but in the stillness of an ice cream outing.

This is (part of) what should have been said:

Sometimes, God's ways don't make logical sense. There were many that told us we were foolish to move in with a family as newlyweds. There were many that warned us and had concerns. But we sensed the Lord's leading, and we couldn't imagine what we would have lost had we had moved out on our own. The blessings God gave us through the last two years in your home have been insurmountable. We wouldn't trade the last two years for all the privacy or quiet nights or extra space in the world.

What we gained through the "sacrifice" of space was far more precious. Thank you for letting us in. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of watching and partaking in the lives of two little 4-month-old babies as they transformed day-by-day into two still-little-but-slightly-larger 2-year-old toddlers -- with their songs and hellos and questions and games and abundant love. Thank you for the ministry of your marriage and lives and for being so influential as brother and sister to both of us -- both through flesh and blood and through Christ. Thank you for walking with us through life.

And although I am the only one writing, I can say this with confidence:

we love you immensely, and will never forget the last two years.

Continue reading about From Ice Cream to Chicken in Part 2.

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