Author: Tabitha Driver

7 Advantages of a Mobile Mindset

I’ve always envied those who’ve lived in the same area their whole life. Their family is near by; their friends know all their childhood secrets and family idiosyncrasies; their future appears more stable; and they have a whole community in an emergency. However, I know that I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t moved. I can’t even begin to imagine how my perspective on life would be different. While neither a mobile or stable perspective is better than the other, here are eight reasons I’m grateful I’ve moved: #1 Loose Hold
Over the years people have asked me “Do you like this area better than this area?” My standard response is that it is the people who make the place. Every area has its advantages and disadvantages: The Shore has mystical fog and friends who refuse to let me stagnate. The Shenandoah Valley had changing leaves and deeply respected mentors. Florida had the Spanish moss and friends my age.
Moving forces me to enjoy my current situation, while accepting that it’d be okay if I had to leave at some point. It creates a homesickness for heavenly perfection, and it creates strong friendships which have to survive the test of distance.
#2 Newcomer Sensitivity
Because I’ve been the newcomer before, I tend to notice new people quicker than others. I have a better sense of how to help them fit in and what will be uncomfortable for them. #3 Unique Experiences
I’ve lived on the Shore for 6 years, but have never gone to the Pony Swim or up to Wallops to watch a rocket takeoff. Sometimes I become immune to the joys around me. They become mundane. But when I am new to an area, I take advantage of all the new and different opportunities. In the course of life I’ve had experiences that while considered ordinary in some localities are unique in others; I;ve been to quilting circles, oyster roasts, and concerts. I’ve had both a fox in my backyard and a drug ring next door. Similarly, my friends have been varied since I haven’t kept the same ones from elementary school --missionary kids, immigrants, homeschoolers, public school teachers, Mennonite, Baptist, Pentecostal, liberal, and conservative.
#4 Broader Worldview
I don’t mean to be arrogant in stating that those who live in the same area their whole life aren’t aware of what else is going on in the world. That’s not true. Yet, I’m grateful for the new people and different experiences I’ve been given. For example, having a Haitian college friend has dramatically affected the way I interact with my Haitian students and helped me better understand their educational background and cultural values.
Once, when returning to an area I used to live in, I found that a local conflict seemed far less important since I had since been exposed to bigger issues. I was much more willing to focus on our commonalities than before. #5 God-Dependency
My friends who’ve lived in the same place for a long period of time know who to ask about a car question, who everyone borrows tablecloths from for their wedding, and who doesn’t mind babysitting for them. They have no trouble raising support for a mission trip since they have know people of all ages. Building those connections is usually a slow process for newcomers like myself who tend to only be introduced to one group at a time (e.g. co-workers or young adults).
Guess what that means?
I get to ask God for help a whole lot more! The answer isn’t always just a phone call away.
#6 Courage
Life is more comfortable when I’m settled. The longer I am in a area the less I will want to change, the more complacent I am. Goals like a master’s degree seem unimportant compared to my current busy schedule. Yet, my mobile perspective has taught me to be less afraid of change and new possibilities. While I don’t feel as courageous and creative as Henri Nouwen’s description, I still like the way he puts it: “I am constantly struck by the fact that those who are most detached from life, those who have learned through living that there is nothing and nobody to cling to, are the really creative people. They are free to move constantly away from the familiar, safe places and can keep moving forward to new unexplored areas of life.” (52)
#7 Fresh Identity Every place I’ve lived, people view me differently. With two siblings in web development occupations and two other siblings who know far more about technology than I do, I didn’t think of myself as very tech-savvy until my current job where I’ve been one of the main proponents for 1:1 student devices.
Again, in comparison with my family, I never thought of myself as athletic, preferring to read inside than shoot hoops with my brother or walk with my mom. Yet, my college friends had a different perspective of me, voting me as athletic director of my intramural group and grudgingly attending the school sports games that I dragged them to.
I’ve appreciated developing new hobbies and interests, and quite frankly, not being as limited by others’ expectations or family comparisons. #8 Gratefulness In my experience, the saying "Distance makes the heart grow fonder" is completely true. I value my family, my heritage and my friends more because I've had to live without them at times.
If you’ve moved, do any of these descriptions apply to you? Would you add any? Do you tend to view moving as positive or negative?
Works Cited:
Nouwen, Henri J. M. A Letter of Consolation. New York: Harper & Row, 1982. Print.

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8 Advantages of a Mobile Mindset

I’ve always envied those who’ve lived in the same area their whole life. Their family is near by; their friends know all their childhood secrets and family idiosyncrasies; their future appears more stable; and they have a whole community in an emergency. However, I know that I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t moved. I can’t even begin to imagine how my perspective on life would be different. While neither a mobile or stable perspective is better than the other, here are eight reasons I’m grateful I’ve moved: #1 Loose Hold
Over the years people have asked me “Do you like this area better than this area?” My standard response is that it is the people who make the place. Every area has its advantages and disadvantages: The Shore has mystical fog and friends who refuse to let me stagnate. The Shenandoah Valley had changing leaves and deeply respected mentors. Florida had the Spanish moss and friends my age.
Moving forces me to enjoy my current situation, while accepting that it’d be okay if I had to leave at some point. It creates a homesickness for heavenly perfection, and it creates strong friendships which have to survive the test of distance.
#2 Newcomer Sensitivity
Because I’ve been the newcomer before, I tend to notice new people quicker than others. I have a better sense of how to help them fit in and what will be uncomfortable for them. #3 Unique Experiences
I’ve lived on the Shore for 6 years, but have never gone to the Pony Swim or up to Wallops to watch a rocket takeoff. Sometimes I become immune to the joys around me. They become mundane. But when I am new to an area, I take advantage of all the new and different opportunities. In the course of life I’ve had experiences that while considered ordinary in some localities are unique in others; I;ve been to quilting circles, oyster roasts, and concerts. I’ve had both a fox in my backyard and a drug ring next door. Similarly, my friends have been varied since I haven’t kept the same ones from elementary school --missionary kids, immigrants, homeschoolers, public school teachers, Mennonite, Baptist, Pentecostal, liberal, and conservative.
#4 Broader Worldview
I don’t mean to be arrogant in stating that those who live in the same area their whole life aren’t aware of what else is going on in the world. That’s not true. Yet, I’m grateful for the new people and different experiences I’ve been given. For example, having a Haitian college friend has dramatically affected the way I interact with my Haitian students and helped me better understand their educational background and cultural values.
Once, when returning to an area I used to live in, I found that a local conflict seemed far less important since I had since been exposed to bigger issues. I was much more willing to focus on our commonalities than before. #5 God-Dependency
My friends who’ve lived in the same place for a long period of time know who to ask about a car question, who everyone borrows tablecloths from for their wedding, and who doesn’t mind babysitting for them. They have no trouble raising support for a mission trip since they have know people of all ages. Building those connections is usually a slow process for newcomers like myself who tend to only be introduced to one group at a time (e.g. co-workers or young adults).
Guess what that means?
I get to ask God for help a whole lot more! The answer isn’t always just a phone call away.
#6 Courage
Life is more comfortable when I’m settled. The longer I am in a area the less I will want to change, the more complacent I am. Goals like a master’s degree seem unimportant compared to my current busy schedule. Yet, my mobile perspective has taught me to be less afraid of change and new possibilities. While I don’t feel as courageous and creative as Henri Nouwen’s description, I still like the way he puts it: “I am constantly struck by the fact that those who are most detached from life, those who have learned through living that there is nothing and nobody to cling to, are the really creative people. They are free to move constantly away from the familiar, safe places and can keep moving forward to new unexplored areas of life.” (52)
#7 Fresh Identity Every place I’ve lived, people view me differently. With two siblings in web development occupations and two other siblings who know far more about technology than I do, I didn’t think of myself as very tech-savvy until my current job where I’ve been one of the main proponents for 1:1 student devices.
Again, in comparison with my family, I never thought of myself as athletic, preferring to read inside than shoot hoops with my brother or walk with my mom. Yet, my college friends had a different perspective of me, voting me as athletic director of my intramural group and grudgingly attending the school sports games that I dragged them to.
I’ve appreciated developing new hobbies and interests, and quite frankly, not being as limited by others’ expectations or family comparisons. #8 Gratefulness In my experience, the saying "Distance makes the heart grow fonder" is completely true. I value my family, my heritage and my friends more because I've had to live without them at times.
If you’ve moved, do any of these descriptions apply to you? Would you add any? Do you tend to view moving as positive or negative?
Works Cited:
Nouwen, Henri J. M. A Letter of Consolation. New York: Harper & Row, 1982. Print.

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Friendships Don’t Heal Loneliness.

Make me lonely,
So I can be Yours.
‘Til I want no one
More than You, Lord.
--“Keep Making Me” (Sidewalk Prophets)
When I told my friend Audrey “Keep Making Me” was my latest favorite song, she told me I was crazy. I didn’t tell her that sometimes the song made me feel uncomfortable too.
Loneliness. We don’t want it.
So we fill our lives with friends and activities.
Which doesn’t work.
Like every other desire on earth, nobody can satisfy loneliness. Our spouse will still not understand us after 50 years of marriage; our best friend will fail to be there for us at a critical moment; our church will deeply wound us. We will go to parties and wonder, “Where do I fit?” We will hang out with our family and ask “How am I related to them?”
Henri Nouwen says, “When our loneliness drives us away from ourselves into the arms of our companions in life, we are, in fact, driving ourselves into excruciating relationships, tiring friendships and suffocating embraces” (Reaching Out 19). He continues to say that “our world is full of empty chatter, easy confessions, hollow talk, senseless compliments, poor praise and boring confidentialities (21).
#1 Emptiness brings peace.
Before we can find meaning in relationships, we first have to face our inner turmoil. We cannot expect others to fill that need. We will experience lack this side of heaven. Nothing we do will fix ourselves. No human friendship can heal our pain. No amount of busyness can make us measure up. Henri Nouwen says we need to quit running away from our loneliness and “accept it as an expression of the basic human condition.” (The Wounded 99)
Strangely, it’s only after we’ve met our emptiness head on, that our loneliness is forgotten. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that unhappiness is usually caused by unmet expectations. Peter Stearns, a social historian says, “the insistence of being happy makes it possibly harder to achieve because it automatically jacks-up expectations.” (Mohler). When we don’t have the unrealistic expectation that we will always be perfectly satisfied with our relationships, then we are free to enjoy what we do have.
In Amy Carimichal’s poem, she writes​ about a man who tries to forget pain, to crowd it out with busyness, and to avoid it. Finally in the last stanza, he finds peace:
“He said,’I will accept the breaking sorrow
Which God tomorrow
Will to His son explain.’
Then did the turmoil deep within me cease.
Not vain the word, not vain
For in Acceptance lieth peace”.
#2 Solitude deepens relationships.
As we confront the silence in our own hearts, we develop our own identity and a greater depth. “Just as words lose their power when they are not born out of silence, so openness loses its meaning when there is no ability to be closed (Reaching Out 21)”
Additionally, it is through our solitude that we meet God. "The mystery of God's presence, therefore, can be touched only by a deep awareness of his absence." (Reaching Out 91). Elisabeth Elliot echoes, “...in our sorrow, He gives us Himself; in our loneliness He comes to meet us.” (Loneliness 36). She calls us to “turn your loneliness into solitude and your solitude into prayer.” (127)
This does not mean that we don’t need community. In fact, we desperately need the catholic church. God, Himself is Trinity, lives in perfect communion.
But relationships are more fulfilling when you expect less from them….and bring more to them.
Nouwen says, “Without the solitude of heart, our relationships with others easily become needy and greedy, sticky and clinging, dependent and sentimental, exploitative and parasitic, because without the solitude of heart we cannot experience the others as different from ourselves but only as people who can be used for the fulfillment of our own, often hidden, needs” (Reaching Out 30).
The solution to loneliness is not to try to fill it with busyness, social media and forced sharing. Despite what society tells us, busyness does not equate importance (Making All 24).
Instead, we will find community and friendship when we have first embraced the very pain we used to run from --loneliness.
Works Cited: Carimichael, Amy. Poems Etc. God's Riches at Christ's Expense, n.d. Web. 24 July 2017. Elliot, Elisabeth. Loneliness. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988. Print. Nouwen, Henri J. M. Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life. New York: HarperCollins, 1981. Print. Nouwen, Henri J. M. Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. Garden City: Doubleday, 1975. Print. Nouwen, Henri J. M. The Wounded Healer: Ministry in a Contemporary Society. Garden City: Image, 1979. Print. Sidewalk Prophets - Keep Making Me (official Music Video). Dir. Sidewalkprophets. YouTube. YouTube, 08 May 2014. Web. 24 July 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwYv6yMuPaA>. Stearns, Peter. "The Dilemmas of Happiness in the Modern World — A Conversation with Social Historian Peter N. Stearns." Interview. Audio blog post. Thinking in Public. Albert Mohler, 26 Nov. 2012. Web. 18 July 2017. <http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/11/26/tip-peter-stearns/>.

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The Powerlessness of Pain

The Powerlessness of Pain
The worst moment of my life was listening to my mom moaning in pain (later diagnosed as interstitial cystitis) and knowing I couldn't do anything. When someone is hurting, I want to do something. I want to take casseroles to the friend whose dad just died and be at the funeral. I want to change my FB profile pic along with everyone else in support of Weston from my home church who was in an extremely bad accident last week. And when a friend is moving a couple hours away due to cancer, I'm disappointed when I arrive too late to help load the moving truck (even if I would have probably just been in the way of the guys loading furniture). I hate watching from afar. I hate feeling helpless.
Six months after his mother's death, Henri Nouwen wrote the following to his father: “When we experienced the deep loss at mother’s death, we also experienced our total inability to do anything about  it. We, who loved mother so much and would have done anything possible to alleviate her pain and agony, could do absolutely nothing” (45).
It's not only the friends who feel powerless, but often the one suffering as well. I recently talked to a gentleman about how the loss of his independence was the hardest part of having a stroke.
Yet, I wonder if that is perhaps one of the purposes of pain? To remind us that we are powerless?
“Death indeed simplifies” Nouwen states, and I would argue that suffering does as well. He continues, “Death lays bare what really matters” (41). We tend to think that we control our lives by working hard, purchasing comforts, or planning our calendar, until a painful situation devastates our lives and reminds us that we “are a bit of smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes” (James 4:14b).
Suddenly, we have no other options but God.
The Power in Pain
Recently, I was asked about my depression a couple years ago. In talking about it, I was again amazed that I'm now actually grateful for it! No, I definitely don't want to go through anything like that ever again. No, I would never have asked for it. But my increased empathy for others and desperation for God, my gratitude for joy, my deeper love for the church, and my lack of desire for empty pleasures cause me to worship God for that painful experience.
I've again been astounded by God showing up in the church as I watch (from 6 hours away) my home church gather around Weston Shank and his family after Weston had an extremely bad accident. Even though I'm not present, the church’s love is obvious. Profile pictures and statuses are changed to express support. When updates are texted to out-of-state friends, everyone gathers to hear the latest. In-state friends regularly travel the hour to the hospital. The church is evident in pain more so than normalcy.
Some people may look to reason to prove the existence of God. But I know God exists when I see a wife praising God the day after her husband dies. I know God is real when my friends who have cancer care how their experience affects my faith. God must be good if my friend can experience a huge emotional and spiritual attack on her family and still say, “Yes, I want God with all my heart!”. I know there is a God when I see Him loving through His Church.
God has shown up over and over in the painful circumstances of my own life as well. And I too can join those who testify that God is worth it even when life hurts.
Pain is powerful because there we experience God.
Works Cited:
Holman Christian Standard Bible. Nashville: Holman, 2006. Print.
Nouwen, Henri. A Letter of Consolation. New York: Harper & Row, 1982. Print.

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"Are you mad at me?"

“Are you mad at me?”I frantically reviewed my recent words and actions to find the source of her fear, but I couldn't recall anything.“Why would I be mad at you?”She ducked her head, covering her face with her long, black hair, too shy to say why. “She...

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