Driving Thoughts (pt.1) – on the edges of an inside joke

Driving thoughts – maybe this will provide a space to share some of the thoughts that come to me while driving… not that I blog while driving (that’s dangerous!) yet while I drive my mind wanders over traffic, trees, and various thoughts, and maybe writing them down will help me to blog and to share more consistently.

I read a comment from one friend to another friend that brought into focus this idea of how serving in mission can leave you standing on the edges of the inside joke. Inside jokes often develop situationally within a relationship. “Guess you had to be there to understand,” is a moderate response compared to the extreme, “What happens in [fill in the blank – Vegas, Spring Break…] stays in [blank].”

I loved living in Seattle. Yet even during my time ‘in’ Seattle I spent time away in other places – and I would not trade those experiences. Yet just as I had those experiences and my life went on, so to did the lives of friends in Seattle. And while we would email and talk on the phone, I missed out on some of the fun and joy, despair and pain. We had a good time when we reunite telling stories and laughing. I was enough on the inside to be a part of the group, yet my absence proved long enough to leave me on the edges of stories.

I have had this experience many times since. I am thankful for all of the friends developed in the places this journey has landed me. Thankful for the memories, inside jokes, and bearing of burdens that has occurred with others along the way.

I remember returning, too, looking in from the edges. I imagined the joy and even laughed a little, though not as deeply as others. I recall wishing I could have shouldered some of the burden. I remember the emptiness in my gut when I heard, “You weren’t here. You left. You wouldn’t understand.”

Courtney and I talk about this from time to time. We are thankful that the thread of our stories have criss-crossed threads with many others along the way. Yet sometimes I/we wonder what it would have been like had I/we just stayed in one place or region. What would it be like not to be on the edges of the inside joke… Yet at the same time, what would it be like to deny this passion and calling to ‘go’…

I don’t know exactly the point of writing this, only that maybe it’s a glimpse of my wandering thoughts.

This thought also leads in at least two directions. One of which I hope to blog about soon regarding the Matrix as remaining a metaphor for my life. The other I will briefly explore now.

The other day some people asked me how their congregations could support people in mission. I replied, “Write to them. Share about your life – whether exciting, trivial, or mundane. Ask them about their lives. Sometimes small specific questions are better than open-ended ones. Question like ‘how’s it going?’ or ‘what do you do?’ can seem ominous at times… Engage them, let them know they matter and that they belong to a bigger story. Remember that you matter, and that you belong to a bigger story as well.”

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