Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Good Life

We went to a party today. And when I say party, I don't mean the sanitized Christian kind where there are...Christians. I mean PARTYYYY party. One of Brett's old co-workers had turned 50, and she was throwing a big bash out at the lake house. She even invited Brett and me--and our whole family. She loves our family.

So, we went. It's always the kind of outing I have to mentally gear up for. I mean, I love her; I really do. But the crowd is not made up of our people. It's 'them.' 'They' are mostly aging yuppies, every family comprised of two immense professional salaries and precisely zero children. Zero. They drive two fabulous cars, live in 4,000 square foot homes in the most coveted parts of Austin, and jet-set around the world when they're not working hard at their very top-tier positions at major corporations.

And then, there's us. We drive the fifteen passenger Blue Whale. When we open the door, children spill out like ants out of an anthill.  We look like Ma and Pa Grape driving up in our jalopy and arriving in that queer little scene from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang...the one where they ask, "Where are all the children?"

The live band is playing cover tunes from Clapton, the Doobies, and Skynyrd...and I know all the words. I start 'dancing. and singing. and movin' to the groovin' and Brett laughs. The kids are watching all the adults dance with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Non-plussed, they make a bee-line for the pool, where I let them get in as far as their shorts' hems will let them. The almost four-year old gets soaked anyway. While most of the grown-ups stick close to the band and the booze, our family actually takes advantage of the activities. Brett plays boccie with the littler ones while Eliza and I do the bean bag toss. And I don't mind telling you this is not a bean bag toss for the faint of heart. We fail miserably and collapse on the back deck, where I serenade Eliza with Margaritaville. (Hey, I didn't start it; I'm just singing along with the band.)

It's fairly noticeable to me--and I think to all the guests, but maybe I'm being overly sensitive--that our family is lurking together on the outskirts of this party. We can't even get the kids close enough to the birthday cake because it has some, uh, 'visuals' we don't want the kids to see. So we stay back far enough to not offend innocent eyes but close enough to join in the birthday well-wishes. (Isn't that the line we always try to toe with the world? Stand back far enough to protect whom we're called to protect...but get close enough to bless whom we're called to bless...)

So, who are these people? Well, we go way, way back with a few of them from Brett's days at IBM. One of them even came to our wedding almost 25 years ago. Brett's known some of them longer than he's known me. We've seen them through multiple last name changes. Our host babysat for us back when we had a modest family of four, and she was between husbands. She is one of the few who has children, two of them, and Brett knows the both of the fathers. Simply put, there is nothing, just nothing, we have in common with these people.

And yet, they are very kind to us. We get warm hugs from the ones we know. They compliment us on our 'beautiful children' and ask earnest questions. They know we're a little odd. They know we homeschool, and I don't work, and we don't agree with President Obama. They know we're Christians, and we go to church. Still, they invite us to birthday parties and summer parties and New Years' Parties. They ask us to come sailing with them, and then they spend time teaching our kids the ropes. They make sure they have ice cream sandwiches on hand for the littler ones. I mean, they are really, really kind to us.

But there's something a little sad about it all. At one point, while Brett was mingling, Eliza and I took the kids to the play scape. I filled her in on who was married to whom, who used to be married to whom, who came to our wedding, who Brett worked for and with at various times. And she said, "It's kind of sad. They have lots of stuff but no kids. They think they're living the good life. But we're really the ones with the good life."

Out of the mouths of babes...

We left a little early. The almost four-year-old was a bit tweaked because the band was still playing and, therefore, the party wasn't over--and I have no doubt there was a lot more partying to come. Alas, we had to get kids home and bathed and ready for church in the morning. I waved across the party to get my host's attention while she was dancing. I blew her a kiss, and she blew me one back.  And that was the end of that.

The good life. God has given us such a good life. And I'll take my Blue Whale over their imports; I'll take my ten kids who make my life full over their jet-setting; I'll take our frugal spending over their two incomes. Most of all, I'll take the gift of rest that comes with knowing what Jesus has done for us over being consumed by the cares of this world. We are living the good life. I can't think of a better one.

We prayed for them tonight. As I tucked each child in bed and prayed, I was overwhelmed with this thing called the good life. And I was overwhelmed by how much I want these friends to have it, too. I want them to find rest in salvation. I want them to come to the Cross and find the Good Life.

Maybe that's why we keep going to these things. It reminds me to pray for them.

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance of death to death, to the other, a fragrance from life to life...2 Cor. 2:15-16

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