Ever had a moment in time where everything stops, time stands still yet everything keeps moving? The only thing I can relate it to is in the movies right before a car crash, the lights trail, the music slows, the movement is stilled to a drawn out blur seconds prior to impact and a person’s life flashes before their eyes revealing some divine meaning. Ya know those scenes? I kind of had one of those, kind of. Minus the car crash.
It was 2010, we had been married for all of 6 weeks and living in Virginia for all of 4 of them. We moved here for Tony, my super awesome husband, to attend seminary at Regent University. We moved into what we appropriately, and what later came to be affectionately known, as the gnome home. All 700 square feet of a converted garage. We had some leftover wedding money…. we were rolling (insert sarcasm). I was jobless. I had left my flourishing, culturally creative and diverse, grad school community of Baltimore where I had ample employment opportunities. We had left our 5-bedroom house Tony owned prior to marriage in the city of Portland, Maine. We had left the roots of both our families and siblings grounded in Maine. Tony had left a growing successful business. We had left a church that challenged us, loved us, and utilized our gifts. And here we were…. Now, Tony walked into a ready-made community welcoming him with opportunity and open arms. I walked right into ……. crickets…….. the land of job-search. Where I had no connections. No idea of the mental health political climate or rules or policies. I was wandering.
I learned many lessons in these few short weeks. The first….. don’t bend down to pick up your dog’s poop. Okay, hear me out. As I stated we had only been married for 6 weeks. Tony had two terrier mixes to which I assumed the mom role. Turned out this wasn’t a mutual assimilation. After my fourth job interview, I arrived home to take the dogs out for a walk. Jack, the blonde leader of the two, took a number two. So, I being the new neighbor wanting to make a good impression of course bent down to bag up his mess. Suddenly I felt something warm and wet sloshing in my shoe and in between my toes. A feeling that to this day, I would like to forget. That mutt peed on me. No, let’s get this straight, he marked me! I think this was the beginning of the end for Jack and I but regardless it was a defining moment for me. Here I was, lonely, bored, disappointed, much like a puppy myself waiting for my husband to return home so I could have some interaction, and this mutt pees on me! Does it get worse (of course it does but follow my drama)!? The dog was letting me know where I stood on the totem pole. The dog!
My car ride home from the fifth interview was a long one, I had driven to the Eastern Shore and back. An hour and 20 mins into the ride home, I had finally turned into our neighborhood. As I proceeded down Ingleside Road, I found myself bombarded with thoughts and images of what I/we were not. What we didn’t have. What we had left behind. I was unknowingly consumed with envy as I ran over the praises of my peers. So and So just bought their dream home. So and So just found out they were pregnant. So and So’s business is taking off. It was then that it happened! The car stopped. Yet it kept moving. I was frozen in time. To this very day I could describe to you in detail the sensory observations of that exact moment. The precise place on the road it all halted. The sound of a neighbor working with his weed-wacker. The setting of the sun and where it’s light reflected off my car. The weight of my weary eyes. The slow pounding of my heart. Strangely the next thing that happened was my thoughts seemed to be jolted to a standstill. Interrupted by the Divine….” Adele, don’t look over your shoulder like Lot’s wife” The “don’t” in this sentence, which came as clear as day, was not a suggestion. Rather, it was a cautionary command. One loaded with love. That may seem contradictory, a command loaded with love. And at first reading, or hearing, one may receive this as a threat – especially considering the Biblical reference. Now don’t get me wrong…it scared me. So much so that I made a cognitive decision in that moment. Very consciously I chose to steer clear of my previous thoughts. I started to drive again, although in actuality I had been making progress down the road the entire time. I was left stuck. Okay Lord, don’t look over my shoulder like Lot’s wife. Okay…I was caught somewhere in between trust and mistrust. Wanting to go in my head to a place of “but what about us?” or “God, will you provide?” and “I know you are faithful and will make a way” Sometimes when I am caught here I just choose to not think. It was then that I heard it again but this time …"Because I have called you to live a life radically on the edge in love with me.”
The feeling of reckless abandonment being required of me was compelling and terrifying.
The “you” in this sentence was not a generalized you. It was a “you” like a parent knows their own child “you.” Tangled into this “you” was hope, expectation, adventure, and an abounding confidence. The meaning of this sentence….. “a life radically on the edge in love with me” has been an unfolding since that late sun September day in 2010. Honestly, I will probably rewrite this post in several years with even more clarity and questions wrapped into one. What I did catch pretty quickly from it was this…. I didn’t have time to look over my shoulder. I had to be looking for the edge. And then once I got there, I had to find a way to live there, right there. Balancing. Slipping. Clinging. Terrified. Thrilled. Confident, Unknowing, Bold, and Humbled. And, I would do all those because I was in love with Jesus. Or better said, I could do all those because of being in love with Jesus. There is a Jason Upton song I love where in the beginning he states “In the company of Jesus no one knows where they are going.” Ha! Even as Christians we strive for destination, accomplishment, and arrival - a way to gauge our progress. We look to the norm, the standard, the corporate ladder, our pastors and churches, those around us. But, what if the wandering is the wisdom? What if the work involved in staying in love and staying uncomfortable is the exact thing that blesses us?
Ya know living on the edge is scary enough…but He wants me to do it radically? Radically, meaning affecting the fundamental nature of living for Jesus. Guys, some days I nail this. I nail it in large ways like taking risks trusting I hear his voice and following hard after him, giving more than I could have imagined, living unconventionally, or speaking up when no one else will. Sometimes I nail it small ways like in parenting or digging deeper into my vulnerabilities to love my husband better. Other days are trodden with mistakes, cowardliness, and comfort. Regardless, all the while I ask my self where am I? Have I unknowingly crept back from the edge? And, then I listen. Because He is always, always, beckoning me back to the edge. He is always beckoning US. The Divine knows that His love is more than enough and he desires US to be wildly and recklessly in love with him. Risking our pride. Risking our fears. For the love of Him and others.
May we live a life unwilling to settle for anything less than in love with an abandonment that doesn’t make sense. May we always look down at our toes and see how close we are to the edge. May we trust that radical is not defiant, or devious, or rebellious. Yet, when grounded in the love of Jesus it is the inertia required to move heaven here on earth. And, may you know that you are more than enough to live a life radically on the edge in love with a God who created you and is wildly in love with you!!