What’s your happy place? Where have you felt loved and safe?
My first and fast thought in response to this prompt, offered by my incomparable niece Catherine Baker of Togetherat the 2022 ReSet Retreat, was this: a two-story white farmhouse framed by rows of corn in Carlinville, Illinois. Norman Rockwell could have brought that farm to life. Instead, my Aunt Carol did.
The farm served up endless adventure when I was a kid. My cousins, my sister and I roared down back country roads on dirt bikes in search of hay bales that dared us to climb them. Cows suffered the indignity of city girls milking them all wrong while giggling at the gross, fleshy fun. Frozen lakes trained me to ice skate as gracefully as Dorothy Hamill. I’ve no actual idea how I looked on the ice, but I know how I felt.
Other, more complicated encumbrances fell away at that farm, too. Something about my Aunt Carol’s sway as oldest sibling stabilized the family vibe.
Back to the present, to the retreat, and a plot twist. Identity coach Emily Jamieson asked us to imagine our happy place, this time asking Jesus what He wants us to know about Him there.
And just like that, I sat in a room full of women, wrecked. God Himself peeled back the curtain on the story of Laurie with a tumble of thoughts that reframed rough drafts of my memories:
“I was there all that time. I was the wind and sun on your face on back country roads. I was the adrenaline of the adventure. I was in your Aunt Carol, placing in you reservoirs of resiliency sturdier than the corn bins you climbed. I spun the hay, froze the lake, and painted the sky.
“I helped you breathe.”
I revisited that physical farmhouse in 2016 (the rooms seemed much smaller), but I’d never revisited it in my mind (the memories seemed much bigger). Sometimes good memories get stashed in the secret compartments you locked the bad ones in.
Here’s what I discovered at the retreat. On a farm off of Illinois Route 108 in Western Illinois, God’s hand was reaching for mine long before I took it. He was there. He cared. And He opened up the world by opening a farmhouse’s front door.
How about you? What’s your happy place? Set the roar of reentry into post-holiday life aside for a sec, and go there in your mind. Where have you felt loved and safe?
What does God want you to know about His presence there?
How was He loving you?
What was He showing you?
How was He preparing you?
How was He protecting you?
What’s He saying to you?
Even if you didn’t know Him yet, He knew you. Even if you’re still not sure you know Him, He’s sure He knows you. I hope that wrecks you as much as it did me. It’s the best kind of wrecking, because it’s redemptive.
There’s power in our stories. Scripture calls this the word of our testimony. Leave a comment here to encourage others if you feel moved to.
Revelation 12:11, Matthew 28:20, Isaiah 41:10, Zephaniah 3:17, Psalm 23:4
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