Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Kingdom I've Received

We have now been living on the west coast again for about a week.  This is my first, and much-awaited, blog post about transitioning to Oregon from Indiana.  I know that it’s “much-awaited” because in the weeks leading up to our move several people made comments about this post.
“Of course, Jared will write all about this transition.”
“And we’ll anticipate a moving blog post about this.”
“I can’t wait to keep up on your lives through your blog.”

…stuff like that.

This may disappoint some folks. In the midst of packing in the span of a week, finding out we’re moving to Oregon at the end of that week, then driving across the country there hasn’t been much time to reflect, meditate, or introspect. It’s been a whirlwind.

Such is life.

As we were driving across Kansas, I was thinking, not about the deep spiritual or psychological issues at play in our family and in this move, but about this expectation to write something sometime soon about the process. I thought, “For better or worse, I am blogger” [albeit an infrequent one].

And this verse came to mind:

Luke 19:12

“A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.”

This is the beginning of one of Jesus’ parables about stewardship; the nobleman gives a certain amount of money to each of his servants while he’s gone. However, an important point to notice is right here in the first sentence. The New Testament idea of “kingdom” wasn’t a place. It was a quality. It was authority, or rule.

While knowing this has all sorts of glorious implications for understanding what Jesus meant when he said, “the Kingdom of God is at hand,” that’s not what I want to talk about. The idea of leaving some place and gaining something is what struck me as the flat expanse of Kansas rolled by.

My wife and I had left the west coast. We had traveled to a far country. We were returning. I wasn’t a blogger when I left California, now as I settle into Oregon, I am. Becoming a blogger isn’t quite becoming a king, but it’s close.

It is a way that I have changed over the past seven years. It is a way that I have grown. It is something I was not, and something that I am.

Being an [infrequent] blogger isn’t the most profound quality I have gained after seven years in a far country, it’s just the one that came to mind due to the requests and expectations of various friends. I’d like to highlight two other characteristics that are different about me as I return.

Another that now defines me is the fact that I am a father. Candice and I left California a family of two and we were heading west as a family of four. The two-year-old’s constant demands for our attention were a reminder of this. The two boys bring us joy and fatigue, and they define us. Our family was well recognizable on campus at Indiana Wesleyan University, where we last lived. Students I lived and worked with knew I was a dad and saw fatherhood as an integral part of who I am. And it was, it is. But it’s also new. Isaiah was born the first year we were in Indiana; we didn’t meet him until three years later. I have away to a far country and I received fatherhood, and now I am returning.

Tomorrow I start my new position as Area Coordinator in the Residence Life department at Pacific University. I wouldn’t have been able to do this job when I left California, but now I’m excited and ready. After seven years working in residence life at IWU, I’m ready for a more challenging position. I know more than a few things about helping students who live on campus at an institution of higher education. Sure, I’ve made mistakes, but in my interviews for this position, I was able to answer questions with examples of times I’d done things and been successful. I was able to brag on three staff members near to my heart who are now successful Resident Directors in their own right (no, I didn’t take full credit for that).

I left and now I return from a far country, a Student Affairs professional.

In some ways this post is just a reflection on my life and how I’ve grown. It’s a reflection on how the past seven years have changed me and how I’m starting a new chapter of my journey. Over the past seven years I have received blogging, fatherhood, and Student Affairs. This post doesn’t mean much for you (beyond rejoicing with me).

But let me remind you of the whirlwind I mentioned earlier.

I stated that it was hard to reflect on this move because life is a whirlwind. This post is about the past SEVEN years. In the midst of these seven years it has not been easy and it has not felt like growth. I have wept. I have done stupid things. I have wished my child would shut up. I have been too lazy to blog. I have failed students. But looking back, taking a step outside the whirlwind, I can see that I have grown; I can see my kingdom.

And maybe you need to do that. Maybe it feels like life is going too fast. Maybe it’s nearly impossible to see any progress. Maybe you think your life is stagnant and this saddens you. It can be frustrating to not see a change in one’s self.

I doubt you haven’t grown. I doubt you’re the same. I bet you’re moving forward, but it’s just hard to see.

Maybe you need to reflect on the last seven years.

Maybe you need to drive across Kansas and think about the kingdom you’ve received.

On a more personal and prophetic note:

I will not squander this kingdom.

One step I will take is to blog more frequently.
Two sites I had previously posted on as a contributor have changed and no longer contain my posts. Part of my efforts in blogging frequently will be to repost pieces I have contributed in the past so that they remain accessible on the internet.

Anticipate that.


Anonymous said...

Good luck in your new position.

James Robles said...

Greatt blog you have

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