Your Best Place
Feb 1st, 2012 | By Nancie Carmichael | Category: Relationships, Self-Care
By Nancie Carmichael –
I was 23 and a young mom of two, and my husband had recently accepted a position in a church. I was a very unwilling pastor’s wife. I didn’t want to be one of “them.” Besides, it had meant leaving our lovely new home in California with its expansive view of rolling hills and apple orchards to move out of state into a cramped two-bedroom condo where our neighbors could see what we had for breakfast.
We were on staff of a large church where my life was not my own. I had no time for contemplation and privacy, not to mention the demands of a new baby and a too-busy husband. I didn’t feel up to the calling, and I didn’t like the place I was in. But one night in the back row of the church as I tried to keep my babies content, I shot up a one-word prayer to God: Yes. I was exhausted, didn’t know where the journey would take me, but I would trust. Again. At that moment, I sensed I had a choice: Say Yes; or keep resisting, wanting something else, something better, something I used to have instead of what I had at the moment.
Looking back, saying Yes didn’t change the place, but it changed me in the place and I grew to love it. There’s something powerful about relinquishment, about saying Yes where we are. It doesn’t seem to matter how old I get, I still have that spark, that longing to have my life count, to make a difference. But if you’re like me, sometimes you look at the ground beneath your feet and say, “My dream isn’t compatible with where I am. I don’t like this place.” And we long for something different.
Now here I am, decades down the pike from that young woman and her feeling of wanting to be somewhere else. Maybe it’s what my father used to call “the lure of the bright lights.” As a disclaimer I should tell you that I live in a beautiful place in the mountains where many people have summer homes, but we live here year-round with a handful of other people. My husband, who has managed to develop a successful book publishing company from this place—thanks to the internet—is happy as long as we have a roaring fire and a soup simmering on the stove. Our neighbors have Cabin Fever Potlucks every month, and for good reason. I’m thinking we need them twice a week as the winters can be long and lonely.
It’s ironic that the place where we live now is somewhat like our first home—in a beautiful, somewhat isolated place. Still, much of the time I still struggle with actually being where I am. So now again, I choose to say Yes in this place because I have learned that God always starts where we are, with what we have.
I’ve come to believe there are deeper conversion points, crossroads when we choose to say yes or choose to resist. And it does have to do with trust. Do I trust God in this place? Do I say Yes—here? Elisha asked the desperate widow, “What do you have in your house?” And her response was like mine so often: “Nothing. Oh, except…a jar of oil.” Holy ground is often right in front of you. Opportunity is usually in your hand, in your house, in the talents and gifts and relationships that you have nurtured.
Maybe you understand too well what I am saying and you struggle with where you are. You’re looking back with longing. Or looking ahead, wanting greener pastures, whether it’s in a relationship, a house, a job, an actual place. No place is ever perfect. And none of us are perfect. Yet what we do have is this precious moment…now. This very moment, this very place can be a wonderful place of opportunity…if we will just stop and take a clear-eyed look to see what’s in front of us.
This month, I took one long winter evening to actually look at the place where I am, to see how I can say Yes here. Here are the results: Saying Yes has led me to hosting a prayer retreat in a couple of weeks in a local resort. Saying Yes has gotten me to work on a book on “Place.” Saying Yes here means helping new authors find their voice. Saying Yes here is helping me finish my Master’s degree in Spiritual Formation.
Yesterday as I walked beside the beautiful Metolius river near our home, I thought how place is more about what’s inside of us than the actual, physical place. And the very best place is the sweet spot where we say Yes to where God…no matter where it is.
- Take some time to look at the place where you are now.
- How would you describe it?
- What potential lies in the place where you are now?
- How can you say “Yes” more fully in your current situation?
Nancie Carmichael is a speaker and author of several books, including, “Lord, Bless My Child” (with her husband, Bill) “Selah—Time to Stop, Think, and Step into Your Future”, “Surviving One Bad Year—Seven Spiritual Strategies to Lead You to a New Beginning”