Displaced but Still Home

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This morning while sitting in the hotel lobby, I came to a realization I didn’t expect: Right now, in my life, everyday – I’m surrounded by things that don’t belong to me, and this feeling is just so strange.   

Since our displacement over a month ago, my family and I have been sleeping in someone else’s bed, eating someone else’s food and often I see my son – wearing someone else’s clothes to school.   But we’re in no way alone in this. So many families here in Chicagoland are displaced due to water damage from pipes that burst during the Sub-Antarctic Blast that hit a few weeks ago.  Then there’s the families in California, many who have not yet fully recovered from the fires and even this morning, thousands more displaced because of severe flooding from above the average rainfall.  As of this month, according to the UN Refugee Agency, “We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record.” 

All of this reminded me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, Revolutionary Road.  In it the main character finds himself caught up in a tragedy of his own design. As he sits in the dark at work, he decides to record a memo:

“Knowing what you’ve got. Knowing what you need. Knowing what you can live without, that’s inventory control.”

Though he was in the situation because of his own life choices, the character in the story knew that he was at a pivotal moment, but he chose incorrectly, ascribed value to the wrong things and it literally destroyed his family. 

As we make progress toward returning home, I deeply understand how displacement for any reason invites you to take inventory of what’s most important in your life.

Since our house fire, I’ve been praying with a new appreciation for all displaced families and I’ve listened to stories of other families displaced here at our long term stay hotel.  No, our circumstances are in no way as dire as those displaced by war, but I believe that we all share some common emotions directly related to this experience.  Reminders that humanity longs for Home.   Reminders that if you don’t accept the invitation to take inventory of what’s most important in life before the unexpected strikes, it can really derail you if it’s all carried away or left behind.   

Whether or not you’re currently in a situation where you’re surrounded by someone else’s things, I pray that you will join me in taking a careful and prayerful inventory of what have, what you need and what you can do without. 

It’s my experience that this practice cultivates a lifestyle and a habit of appreciation that will serve you well if you’re forced away from home.  

One of my favorite stories from the Bible tells us that right before Jesus calmed the storm at sea, a man approached him and proclaimed, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go!”  Jesus responded with a word of caution: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”  In other words – Jesus was displaced and He wants us to accept His invitation to embrace what really matters, because this leads to the discovery that He is our Home.

If you make your Home with God, no displacement can keep you from living out His love and sharing His light.  And that’s my prayer for you, even if right now you actually can go home, that you’ll find  Home in Him.

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When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.  Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head…”

 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.   Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” – Matthew 8:18-20, 23-27 (The Bible)

Shrapnel

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"Healing is a lifelong process...maybe it was too emotionally overwhelming at the time it happened for us to deal with it all at once, and now we have the strength to process even more. Like a shard of shrapnel that's been stuck beneath our skin - sitting there for years and never surfacing - until finally, one day our bodies expel them. Perhaps it's the same with our minds and hearts. Old wounds surface when it's time! As part of the natural healing process, when we are ready." - Dr. Ken Druck

* * *

I’ve learned that when ‘we are ready' always happens when we least expect it to. If you’re like me, then today is a day where you are dealing with resurfaced ‘shrapnel.’

I pray that you will be compassionate and patient with yourself. Healing from trauma has nothing to do with a lack of faith, but everything to do with your commitment to a healing journey.

“Of course there are people who say progress is dangerous, but then I bet none of those idiots ever had to live with a chest full of shrapnel. And now, neither will I.” - Tony Stark

I love this line from Iron Man 3 because for me, it’s a reminder that every tiny step we take toward recovery requires a recommitment to this very difficult process.

I hope that you’ll choose to accept the strength you’ll need to face and process the message that your sorrow is sending you through the situation that pushed the shrapnel to the surface.

Please don’t apply pressure and force it back down - it’s time to let God remove that shard until you’re strong enough and ready to let him remove the next.

As I encourage my sons every day, I pray that you will

Be brave , Be present, Be faithful, Be wise & Be kind to yourself and others.

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” - Psalm 34:18

P.S. Brace yourself, if you say ‘Yes,’ to God’s healing shrapnel removal work - I think it’s like having surgery with little to no anesthesia, with your eyes open. But as one of my mentors often says, ‘Make sure you don’t climb off the operating table before He’s finished the procedure, or you’ll have to keep coming back.’

*Thank you @samuelmartins7 for your beautiful work and gifting.

Peace Innovation

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Recently I was invited by a colleague from the Stanford Behavior Design Lab to be a part of a conversation about Peace Innovation.  From the first few moments of our time together I fell in love with the concept of designing real world interventions in order to create, cultivate and sustain a spirit of peace on a global scale. 

Much of what we discussed I can’t share here.  But what I can tell you is that this conversation reignited in me a desire to share what I’ve learned about peace and how important it is that we understand that peace must begin within the individual before it can spread to families, neighborhoods, communities, nations and into the world. 

Jesus talked about this when He told his disciples that He offers a peace unlike anything that the world offers, and once we have received this peace, we no longer need to be afraid or troubled. 

Think about how many of us long for this kind of peace.  A peace that surpasses all understanding and allows the bearer to transcend all the adversity that life on this unpredictable planet brings.  A peace that swells up from deep within, and is so much a part of your identity,  that you have a calm that’s contagious even through a storm.

I believe that this kind of personal peace innovation is possible. And the key is through the cultivation of tiny-habits specifically and intentionally created to increase personal peace within, one tiny decision at a time.    

A good place to start is with a question:  What choice do you need to make right now that will sow a seed of peace in your life? 

·       Maybe it’s considering for the first time that there’s someone or some situation that you need to forgive and let go of.

·       Maybe it’s taking a 5-minute walk today so you can victoriously begin to end the deeply personal war created by choosing a sedentary lifestyle? 

·       Maybe it’s giving one item away from the garage that’s overflowing with things you no longer need.

·       Maybe it’s reading one Scripture out loud every morning before you begin your day. 

·       Maybe it’s slowing down and taking a deep breath, accepting that you are not in control.

The seeds of peace are always waiting to be planted and watered.  They are each as unique as you are, and in time - they culminate into the same fruit:  A deep abiding peace that affects you and everyone around you for good in tiny countless ways.

Peace Innovation on a global scale begins with one tiny, loving choice, followed by another. 

•         •         •

What real-world, practical intervention will you choose today to move toward peace?

•         •         •

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. So let not your heart be troubled or afraid.” – Jesus (John 14:27)

Thank you Wesley Eland on Unsplash for this beautiful photo! :-)