The walls are plain and bare.
Over the past couple of years, the walls of our little flat have filled up with fine art photographs and paintings that my wife, The Wild One, has created. Now all those pieces are safely bubble-wrapped and waiting to be moved.
When we first moved into this place, there were literally boxes floor to ceiling, so many that we could barely move. It’s starting to get that way again, as we pack up our stuff. It’s getting harder to figure out how to move from one side of the apartment to the other–a stark reminder of how tiny this place really is.
It’s only for a few days, I know, but I’m surprised at how these bare walls are depressing me. Sometimes I’m so preoccupied that I barely notice what’s hanging on the walls; but I sure notice now that nothing is on the walls. I’m anxious to see art on the walls again.
We knew when we moved into this flat that it wasn’t a permanent thing; in fact, I’m actually surprised we made it for two years. This place is less than half the square footage of our previous home, and we sold off most of our stuff just to get in the door. We’ve felt utterly claustrophobic in apartments bigger than this one–but we loved it.
You know something is amok with where you’ve been living when half the square footage feels like absolute freedom.
The truth is, we were wasting away in Tulsa, completely shut down creatively, emotionally, and spiritually. Ten years of having to fight with all our strength for every single tiny victory when it came to ministry had finally taken its toll. We needed a place to regroup, a place to heal…a place to de-tox.
This little flat–small as it is–has been that place for us. We didn’t have a lot of room, and we didn’t have a lot of stuff–but we had a nice, clean, safe place to live, convenient to everything we love about Denver. We had nice views off the balcony, both of the mountains and of downtown Denver. We had a place where we could walk to just about anything, and a one-minute walk up the back stairs and across the railroad tracks brought you into the picturesque downtown area of Olde Town Arvada. And most of all–we had peace. Despite the thinner air of Denver, it felt like we could breathe for the first time in years.
We were delighted that we could walk into Olde Town to see the harvest festival parade after we’d been here only a week, and even more delighted the first time we saw Olde Town covered in snow. Everything felt new, felt alive. I almost felt guilty about how good I felt about just getting up in the morning. I never wanted that season to end.
But we didn’t come to Denver for a perpetual vacation. We came here to live life, and to grow into something more than we were. The fact is, we’ve outgrown this little space that used to be just right for us. There was a time to explore, a time to be inspired. Now it’s time to create, to do something with that inspiration. It’s time to grow.
This little flat has been great for its purpose, but its purpose has been served. I can see now that God didn’t bring us to this flat to grow; He brought us here to be healed. And now it’s time to grow again.
And so the walls are temporarily bare, and the boxes are filling the walking spaces, and we can’t find what we’re looking for because it’s been packed already.
Our new townhome is probably less than three miles from here–it’s so close that we can basically stay within the same circles with little difficulty. I’ll still be able to come here to my favorite coffee shop–I just won’t be able to walk here. Gone, also, are the ready-made views of the mountains and downtown. They’re still close, just harder to see. But this new place has something that our flat doesn’t have: space. Room to create.
In fact, every one of us three “only children” will have our own dedicated creative space in this new townhouse. For the first time ever, I will have my own studio space, a place to write and create music, a place to find myself again as a musician. The Director gets the finished basement, which gives him plenty of room to work and play and have some much-needed independence. The Wild One has picked out the place with the most natural light to set up her studio area. And we’ll even have room to entertain, so we can finally repay some of the generosity and hospitality shown to us by the group of artists who have so graciously welcomed us into their circle. It’s the perfect place for us to grow.
I’m not sure why this is, but it seems like the time between August and October has historically been a time of significant change for us–like if we’re going to encounter some sort of life change, it’s probably going to happen around this time. It’s a time for closing old chapters, and opening new ones. We’re only moving a few miles down the road, but it feels like a much more significant move. I feel the stirring of mission in a way I haven’t felt in awhile, and I feel like God is going to start moving us more deeply in that direction. In fact, in the past couple of months, I’ve seen my prayer life move back ever-so-slightly toward a spiritual warfare mode, something I haven’t felt in years. I am more aware of the spiritual realm, more aware of the ongoing clash between light and darkness, and I see more evidence of what I used to call “enemy resistance”–except that perhaps I’m able to apply a few more years’ worth of wisdom to what I’m feeling and sensing than I used to. Simply put, it feels as though after several much-needed years on the sidelines, God is about to put us back into the game. I think this season of growth is not just about growing creatively and artistically–it may also be about growing into the people God sent us here to become.
There’s a lot of things I’ll miss about this teeny flat, but in order to grow, you must let go of old things to embrace new ones. And so on Sept. 1–two years to the day since we left Tulsa–we’ll move into a place with more growing room. We’ll close this chapter in our saga, and open a new one.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.