Singing, Suburbia, and Strategy (or what I’m learning from SMI)


Over halfway through the year and, wow, is it ever different from what I imagined!  God seems to be quite adept at the “spin,” though, and the way life is turning out is way more incredible than the way I’d imagined it. :-)  SMI wasn’t on my list, but I’m so glad it was on God’s.  SMI changed my life.  I’m just not sure how it changed my life…

But to figure out how SMI changed my life (and what I ought to do in response), I’ve got to try.  So here’s a try. :-)

Singing, Suburbia, and Strategy. They do actually all relate to SMI. :-)

Singing. One of the best things (for me) about SMI was the opportunity I had to live in community with people other than my family.  This was good on two levels – 1) I realized it’s possible, and 2) I realized I actually enjoyed the experience.  I almost behaved like an extrovert during SMI – I didn’t want to go to bed at the end of the day because I was afraid I would miss some really deep/interesting/fun conversation.  I survived on six hours of sleep each night – and only drank coffee 3 of the 14 mornings of SMI.  I loved our times of team fellowship – sitting in the living room, preparing a meal together, washing the dishes together, staying up really late, singing, telling jokes, laughing… and sharing our life stories with each other.  (Seriously, sharing my own life story was the last thing I expected to do at SMI – but a simple question from one of the Daves caught me so off-guard that a lot of my story spilled out – with the whole team listening.  Freaky!  Like I said, definitely not something I had anticipated sharing.)  At SMI, I found community and fellowship in ways that I didn’t think could actually exist.  Of course, we were only with each other for two weeks – long enough for the rosy glow, but short enough that we didn’t run into any major relational issues.  I guess what I’m really getting at is that SMI gave me a tiny glimpse of what Heaven will be like. :-)

Suburbia. Re-entry into “normal” life brought its own set of challenges.  My parents’ home sits on two-thirds of an acre – surrounded by grass, trees, and a big driveway.  My “home” in Philly was probably on less than two-tenths of an acre, surrounded by sidewalk, cars, and adjoining homes.  No driveway meant parallel parking wherever you could find a spot – hopefully within a block of the house (especially at night).  But with parallel parking, you usually end up walking a bit to get home – which in turn means exchanging pleasantries with the neighbors.  In suburbia, I occasionally wave to my neighbors if they happen to be getting in their car (in their driveway) at the same time I am – we rarely speak.  At SMI, I found it comforting to know that the whole block was looking out for us, keeping an eye on us, and always said “hello” when we walked past.  I miss that, now that I’m back in suburbia.  I’ve also been reevaluating things I take for granted – running by myself, walking out of work at midnight by myself, going anywhere by myself after dark.  These things, for safety’s sake, were things that just weren’t done at SMI.  They are also things that I probably won’t be doing when I get overseas, so now I think twice when I head out alone.  In a sense, I am somewhat jealous that guys don’t usually have to think as much about safety if they want to go somewhere or do something alone.  But at the same time, I realized that the interdependency fostered in living in community in a place where safety was something of a concern was a huge growing experience for me.  I don’t take the “safety” (it’s a relative term) of suburbia quite so much for granted, and I also miss the proximity that almost forces relationships that I found living in the city (though obviously proximity does not always equal relationship!).

Strategy. The strategy part is the what-do-I-do-from-here? part of the picture.  As I’ve pondered SMI, I’ve pretty much came to one simple conclusion: I can’t keep living the way I’ve been living.  Something (a lot of things, maybe?) needs to change.  But I don’t want to rush into this blindly and change things merely for the sake of change.  If/when I move into the city, what would be the end goal?  What’s the point?  Would I be moving to foster personal growth/maturity?  There would be much of that, and it would be quite beneficial to live in a city here before attempting to live in a city there (meaning overseas).  Would it be to live in community?  That, too, would be a valid reason – if only to learn to get along with roommates other than siblings. :-) Would it be more for something outside of me?  Something like living where I worship (or the converse – worshiping where I live)?  How could I influence a community for Christ?  Or perhaps a better question, How can Christ influence a community using me as a channel?  And why haven’t I been doing that/asking these questions so far?!  If I don’t practice now, how on earth do I expect to be able to just up and do it once I land on the other side of the world?!!  The more I think about strategy and what I ought to be doing today, the more questions I have.  Am I supposed to be leading something?  I don’t want to start a movement – I want to join Jesus in the movement He has already started.  But what does that look like, practically speaking?  I think – even as I ask these questions – that He is beginning to answer, often in ways I did not expect.  And I don’t think I’m really seeking answers, either, because I learned through the whole SMI experience that it’s far better to just seek the Answer.

So there’s really not a lot of resolution to this yet.  SMI has been done for over a month, but I think what God did in my heart and in the hearts of the others who were involved is only just beginning.  I can’t say exactly what’s going to happen, though I have a shadow of a guess right now. :-)  I’m excited to see how Jesus will shape and change and beautify the unknown that lies ahead…  and being excited about the future is somewhat unusual for me. ;-)  So… for tonight… Ah, Lord God!  Show me the path of life!  That I might seek you with all my heart!

All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.

– Fanny Crosby


2 Responses to “Singing, Suburbia, and Strategy (or what I’m learning from SMI)”

  1. 1 Plans, Proverbs, and Scary Stuff « musings along the way
  2. 2 Raspberries and Chocolate « musings along the way

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