Stories of Grace | Planting Roots in a Concrete Land
“The Stories of Grace series is intended to capture snapshots of God’s grace and glory amidst our every day lives. They are real stories of real people who have seen the fingerprints of God amidst the ordinary—God’s favorite canvas. Each story is personal, unique and, often, unfinished. Through it all we get glimpses of God’s steadfast love, sufficient grace, and ongoing presence with his people.”
People have places and place yields meaning; it’s easy to forget. Rivers have beds, houses have foundations, kings have thrones, and planets have orbits. Adjust any of these places and you will find fundamental shifts in the meaning and expression of the object. People aren’t all that different. Christian people are called to be pilgrims, to seek, but even we have places along the way. Like Florida, for instance.
Florida — sunny, humid, beautiful, and weird, was home to my wife and me for the first three decades of our lives. Like all good Florida kids we knew the smell of suntan lotion from the earliest of ages and could pick out the venomous snakes from the harmless varieties. Yes, the logs have eyes and are called alligators, not crocodiles. Florida had family and friends, thirty years’ worth. It was our place. And we left it for Seattle.
More specifically we left a four-bedroom home in a subdivision on a cul-de-sac with three kids in tow and moved to a two-bedroom condo in a downtown neighborhood. Then we added another kid. Suburban to urban, cicadas to cyclists, red to blue, known to unknown. Why? The driving impetus behind the cross-country relocation was a call to serve a young classical Christian school in the heart of the city. But that’s not the part of the story we want to emphasize. Rather, we want to tell you about living through this call, what we as a family have experienced, and how Jesus has continued to demonstrate His kindness.
When others discover our living situation, family of six residing in downtown Seattle, they tend to focus first on what must have been sacrificed. Our people back in Florida typically note the amenities we no longer possess: multiple vehicles, expansive square footage, expendable income, a yard. Progressive neighbors either don’t know how to process the parade of children perpetually accompanying us or openly marvel at our choice to plant roots down here where dogs outnumber kids 2:1. Conservative neighbors, likewise, question the wisdom of exposing children to the vanguard of cultural redefinition. It’s not surprising that a person’s first reaction is shaped by the difference in their position compared to our own. But our experience has not been dominated by missing pieces or dysfunction. In truth, we have known community, family unity, and purposefulness unlike any other time in our marriage.
Seattle became home for us largely through our Cornerstone Community. Members of the church community, people we had not yet even met, were here on day one helping us to unload our moving truck. These friends have told us to go out on dates and freely babysit our children, approach us with straight exhortations from Scripture, invite us to know their hopes and hurts, and have effectually knit us into this place. It’s common to head out on the sidewalk and spot someone we recognize or hear our names called out by a passerby. Our children see firsthand how other adults in seasons similar or dissimilar to their parents seek to follow and serve Jesus. We couldn’t imagine leading life here apart from our Cornerstone Community.
One of the most common perceived drawbacks about family urban living we have heard is the concern over too little space. Surprisingly, not least of which to us, are the gifts we have enjoyed as a result of proximity both in and outside the home. Within 950 square feet it’s tough to avoid one another. But this closeness means we have to live life among each other. Contentious problems are rarely left unresolved, challenges with the kids are discovered early; it’s hard to keep skeletons in your closet when you don’t have any closet space. The absurdly restorative message of the gospel must, therefore, be present often.
As we strive and struggle to follow Jesus and raise up our children in the instruction and admonition of the Lord we find that our home in the city demands purposefulness. This is not to say that living with purpose is solely relegated to urban life. However, culture, what people do with creation, is typically innovated in the city. As our family encounters developments both beautiful and ugly we are pushed again and again to send roots down deep into the Truth and Goodness of God. Divisions, disparity, images, stories, change, appearance all vie for a place to stand in our hearts and the souls of our children. And we have the amazing opportunity to seek His kingdom amongst our diverse neighbors! Shoot, do you know the parental training opportunities provided by a protest? The old Story proves fresh, resilient, and life-giving over and in the pulsations of the city.
God was good to us on the cul-de-sac and He’s been good to us in the city. I don’t think our story is all that exceptional or inspiring, but it is true. Make our story less peculiar. Consider planting roots, sticking around, and raising your kids here as well. The challenges are real, but our Father loves to give good gifts. His church is called to bear and bequeath the beauty of Jesus in every square inch of this world.
– Luke Davis, DCC Member
If you are a member with DCC and have a story of grace to share please email firstname.lastname@example.org.