Two For One

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So, today you get a bonus post. The usual Sunday Kind of Love, followed by an Uncomfortable January. So, read all the way through!

A Sunday Kind of Love is where I post various items that I love. Today, it is layered gold necklaces. I wear them almost every day. The key is to incorporate various shades of gold or mixed metals with a variety of lengths. Here are some of my favorites:

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And for today's Uncomfortable January...

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I've loved hearing from various ones of you who are doing your own Uncomfortable January challenge. Isn't it better to do things like this together??? Shannon Miller is a friend &  reader from Austin, TX who emailed me her uncomfortable story. So, with her permission, I'm sharing what she sent. Thanks Shannon!

This week our church gathered with two other churches in the Austin area to pray for our city. As I sat there and tried to pray for the city of Austin, my heart seemed to turn up blank. And it was uncomfortable.

 

It’s almost been three years since I moved to Austin. In fact, I’ve now lived in Austin longer than I lived in Seattle. But my heart still burns for the people in that emerald city…and not the one I currently live in.

 

You see Seattle was a place that had been on my heart for many, many years. When I was in high school I took a mission trip to the city. There was something special about Seattle. It was on that trip I started telling people I was going to move there one day, and I believed it.

 

College happened and then after graduation I eventually made my way up to Seattle. Definitely a shock, it was so hard. But I loved that dang city. I loved worshipping God with people in that city. I loved feeling free to be different in that city. I loved being light in that dark, dark city. And I really loved and was so burdened for the people in that city.

 

Now don’t get me wrong I missed Texas so bad when I lived in the northwest, but moving back to Austin was definitely out of necessity and not because I planned it. In fact, I pretty much had a two weeks notice to pack up and get down here.

 

And it’s like I woke up a year later, finally married and finally aware that I lived in Austin. And I had no plans to go anywhere else. Don’t get me wrong I keep praying and praying about where to go next and somehow I keep getting nothing.

 

So here I am in Austin. Three years later. And still feeling disconnected from this city. And this week at our church gathering I couldn’t do anything else but start asking the uncomfortable question…why?

 

Maybe it’s because I feel judged. Austin has never been my favorite place, even in the brief periods of time I lived here during summers and other breaks before I moved to the northwest. The people here seem to be driven by their success and what they do. There are a lot of fancy cars here and big shiny homes. People love this city (and I mean LOVE this city) and think it’s weird if you don’t. It’s a lot of pressure.

 

Or maybe it’s because Austin represents my past. And there are things in my past that aren’t so fun to relive. There are people that still live here that hurt me. I think I let it represent the oppression I have had to overcome with the church and my own confidence. There are some very hurtful, painful, and just plain weird memories here (and in Texas in general).

But ultimately I am pretty sure it’s selfish. I have never asked to be burdened for the people in Austin. Because I think honestly I don’t want to be. I think in my head people in Austin live in the Bible Belt and they have already heard about Jesus and experienced “church.” They’ve already formed their opinions, and most of those opinions aren’t super positive. I know because I hear these opinions firsthand over and over. And it feels hopeless. I do so badly want people to experience freedom in Christ in Austin and all over the world. It’s just hard to pray for it in a place that seems to be so…so…gray. I am so sad people have been hurt by the church. I am so sad people have been judged, and judged hard by Christians. I too am one that has been hurt and judged. And I am one that has hurt and judged. I am so sad I avoid talking about my faith because I have already decided that it won’t make a difference in this city. In the lives of so many people I personally know and love in this city. And I am sorry to all of those people. I know not every place I live will be as close to my heart as Seattle. I recognize that that journey was unique. But I do believe God has a reason that I live in Austin right now. Whether it’s a little more quiet or small scale, whether it’s to actually face my past, whether it’s to teach me how to love people better, whether it’s just a stepping-stone to the next place, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I am in Austin today.
And I am sure it will keep being uncomfortable. Especially if I actually ask God to give me a heart for the people in this city. Which I must confess even after writing this, in all my pride, is still hard to do.