I have been living in Richmond for two months now. In some ways my life here flows quite naturally from where I was before. I am still making art, learning Mandarin, and developing my walk with Jesus. In other ways, deciding to come here marked me significantly. By choosing to dedicate nine months of my life to training to “go and make disciples of all nations,” I marked the end of business as usual.
With that decision came some goodbyes. First, I said goodbye to my stable job and my comfortable apartment. Then I said goodbye to my friends. Now I am living in a new town with new people and have no financial security to bank on. For the most part, I have taken this in stride. The past couple of days, though, I have been missing my friends. Tears have been welling up in my eyes as I realize how I love them and wish that they were here with me. I wonder if, selfishly, I have broken some grand commitment.
Jesus spoke to exactly what I am experiencing in Luke 14. His instruction, beginning in verse 25, that “whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple,” that one must be ready to leave behind his possessions and even his own family to respond to Christ’s invitation, may seem harsh. He makes this statement, though, just after he calls “blessed” those who share in his feast with a glad and motley crew. This dinner party is worth dropping everything to be part of.
Today in the midst of my sadness, Jesus invited me to dance. My roommate Moriah and I have been talking about how we are hungry for our living community to express our spirituality more tangibly together, and also about how each of us loves to dance. After over an hour of conversation about frustrations and sadness, which eventually turned chaotic, I realized that it was time to turn on the music. With a song, a sad house became a glad house.
I still miss my friends in Massachusetts. In the midst of dancing, though, I remembered when I had danced in praise to God with a dear New England friend–another Mariah–and how that experience had likewise restored our joy. I know that even though I am apart from Mariah and my other northern friends, the dance with them does not end. My house is a glad, glad house because the sweetest loves whom I have left as I follow Jesus are following him, too. Like members of a great contra line, we know that someday the steps will bring us back together.