We moved to France to plant a church. We knew we’d be having folks in our house all the time. We knew we’d be hosts. And all that turned out to be very true. For a long time, we reveled in community, but then it became messy. So messy that it strangled us. At the end of our first year on the mission field, counselors diagnosed us both with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). This made sense to me, because every time I flew home to the states for business, all I could say about our experience was, “I feel like I’ve been in a war zone.”
We had many people over. A typical week we’d have 10 or so for lunch, then 20+ for dinner, plus another dinner with a family. This was a light week. When we returned to the US, the last thing I wanted to do was cook and have people over. Complete exhaustion and burnout laid me low for three years. I’m finally in that place where we can invite friends over, where we can welcome community into our lives in a deeper way.
Which is why I clipped out the top picture from Southern Living this month. I remembered our time in France, how we had two large tables outside and constantly fed people under the expanse of sky. In our home here, I’ve longed for an excessively long outdoor table, chunky and able to sit 15-20. I found this one, but it’s waaaaay beyond our budget, so I’m waiting to see how beautifully God will provide one someday. I’m just thankful I’m thinking about embracing community again.
The second picture is the postcard I designed for our very first bi-lingual church service in France. It’s a bit bittersweet to see it and remember, but I’m also very grateful that our friends Nicole and Vincent Derieux are doing an amazing, beautiful work in our stead. That makes it all worthwhile.
So, with trepidation, I’m stepping forward into community, even though I first idolized it, and then became disillusioned by it. Just wanting a big long table is a good first step. May the Lord fill the table as He sees fit.