Last Monday we talked a little about waiting.
Today’s post, we’re talking about “exile.” What a transition, huh! What you don’t know is that these are almost synonymous with each other.
But let’s get outside the “writing life” box at the moment, because really, this is pertinent to our whole lives.
Let me take you back a few years… really about twelve and a half of them. It was March, 1997 when I started my exile. I was 16 at the time, and my parents moved me away from my life in Northern Indiana to Northern Minnesota, the Ice Box of America. It’s cold there, folks, let me just say. Like… -30 degree cold at times. Yes, that is a MINUS sign there.
Needless to say, I was not pleased about this. We were also leaving my two blessed (aka highly lucky to be out of the house and not forced to move to this place for which my cousin and I coined the term “Frozen Hell”) older sisters, one of whom was getting ready to have her first baby. We moved from a 3000+ square-foot house in a nice suburban neighborhood to a one bedroom A-frame 30 minutes from the nearest gas station in which lived my parents, my little brother, myself, my aunt and uncle, my 2 younger cousins, and our 2 dogs.
Yes, 8 people and 2 dogs in a one-bedroom house.
Oh, folks, it gets better.
We got there and there was no water. NO water, I say. Why? The well had run dry. And there was 3 foot of snow on the ground. (You think I’m exaggerating… I’m not.) We spent the next 2 months melting snow to do simple tasks like… flushing the toilet, taking a sponge bath, washing dishes. I slept on couch cushions in the hallway in front of the washer and dryer while my little brother slept on the floor in my parent’s room and my cousins slept in sleeping bags under the kitchen table.
Again… I’m not exaggerating.
Thankfully, things got better after a while. Once the ground thawed, we had a new well dug, and YEAH we had water. My aunt and uncle bought a little trailer and moved into it. Eventually we built on an addition to the house and I had my own room (albeit a little rough… I still had at times ice in the corner of my floor.)
Minnesota was my exile. I complained, I ranted, I pitched a blue bloody fit almost daily. And, in most people’s opinion, I had just cause to do so. But one day, my dad sat me down and had a heart to heart with me. He read Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
My dad’s intent was to tell me that MN was God’s plan for me, and God didn’t want to harm me, but to give me a future. BLAH is all I had to say about that.
But that night, I went back and read the whole chapter, and God opened my eyes. The chapter talks about the Israelites being exiled in Babylon. They didn’t “go” to Babylon, they were “exiled” there, forced by an evil king (almost like cruel parents, except mine loved me!!) And God was telling them to, “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Wow… that was huge for me y’all. God was telling me that MN was not the place he had planned for me, my future was not set there. But I had to be there, exiled, for a period of time, and while I was there, I was to be fruitful for Him. I was to live there, and seek the peace and prosperity of the place where I was. Basically, I was to be content with where he had put me, and know that He has a future outside of my exile.
So… that is what I did. Oh, I failed… many times. But I made a few friends…. I smiled as much as I could. I tried to live out my faith to the best of my ability, although I look back now and groan sometimes at my stupidity and missed opportunities.
But God was faithful, and He DID bring me out. The next summer, I met the man of my dreams in an Internet chat room of all places. We “dated” online that year, met twice, and the weekend after I graduated high school, I moved down to NC and we were married 4 months later. God was faithful, as He ALWAYS is.
Please know that I’m not saying Northern MN is a place worthy of the term “exile.” There are some truly wonderful people there, but in that time of my life, it was “my” exile.
Everyone has their own types of exile, and it doesn’t have to be a place. Sometimes it is a set of circumstances. An extended sickness, a period of joblessness, a period of just wondering where God is in your life, or just a general knowledge that you aren’t in a place God wants you to be but you are powerless to change it (i.e. it’s up to a husband/parent to do the changing…) Obviously, our writing lives can feel like an exile, (like the famous Seekerville unpubbed island!) but I want to go beyond that today, because I think it’s so so so important.
The point of this rambling isn’t to remind you that God is going to bring an end to your exile… although He will. My desire is to discuss what we do while we are there.
Are you complaining in your exile? Are you stomping your foot and refusing to be productive until God shows you the way out? Are you letting every person who comes in contact with you know how miserable you are, how unfair your exile is, how much you can’t wait until it ends, even under the guise of requesting prayer? If you are, then well, I’m sorry to tell you, you are acting like my three-year-old did in Lowe’s yesterday when she wanted to get into the “car” cart but it was time to go. And you might need exactly what she did… a good swat on your rear end to get you going. (ha!)
Because I can almost guarantee, unless we stop belly aching about our circumstances and start thriving where God put us, we’re not going anywhere. And even then… don’t expect for the relief to be immediate. It was almost 2 years after I gave up my stubbornness before God brought me out. And for the Israelites… it was 70 years.
Discussion: Are you in “exile” today? What are YOU doing about it?
Man I needed that post. I didn't know about God telling them to be fruitful where they were exiled, but now I do I will rethink my own attitude and try to be a little more 'fruitful'. Thank you.
LOLOLOL…here you are, telling us to quit whining and that is all I did in my post today! Ouch, ouch, ouch…you are stepping on my toes.
Oh Krista, what an exile! I've had a couple of exiles that were not pleasant and yes, I have whined in the process. But I think I did come to a place of acceptance, albeit reluctantly.
Great post and one that I needed to hear.
Wow, that does sound like exile, Krista. That's an amazing story. But as you said, God shapes us and changes us during those difficult times. Thanks for sharing! It was so encouraging!!
Oh, my gosh! But what a great story about God working in your life through such a tough time.
Thanks for sharing!
Great thought provoking post, Krista. I guess my writing could be considered in exile now, and you're telling me to quit complaining and just make the most of it by writing, writing, writing, right? Okay, Will do.
Too often we spend our time in exile whining and complaining rather than being fruitful. This is an awesome reminder. I am still trying to get past the "no water" for a lengthy period of time. I could handle the rest (i think), but NO water is worse than exile in my opinion.
Blessings and hugs, andrea
I can't imagine anything that cold ever.
And what an incredible story. Thank you for this! You've given me a lot to think about, Krista!
All I can say is UGH! Yes, been there done that. My exile was the opposite of yours–Phoenix! It was a physical exile, but now I believe I'm in a spiritual one of sorts. So not fun, but I guess maybe I can quit whining. At least today =P
Exiles are nice – after they're done. LOL.
I had one about 8 years ago when, as the mother of two young children, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and spent six straight months on the couch. I learned a lot about prayer and discovered that "fruitful" doesn't necessarily mean visible results.
Great post. Thanks for the reminder.
What a terrific post today, Krista. It really spoke to me.
Just a note of clarification:
Please don't take my post as saying that we can never complain about our exile (i.e. pain-in-the-rearend circumstances)
We all need to vent at times. It's a natural release for a frustrating circumstance. The problem is when we allow our "venting" or complaining to overwhelm us and make us unproductive. If we are focusing so much on "poor me" that we can't get over it, then we aren't allowing God to use us through the circumstances.
Because, I don't know about y'all, but if I have to go through a cruddy exile… I'd love for it to be WORTH something in the end!
Krista, I've been thinking all morning about your post and it really touched me. I cannot imagine uprooting during highschool…especially to such a solitary place. It is amazing how God works, isn't it?
Great post! The "Exile" experience is SOO Biblical. My ladies of Grace are going through Esther and looking at what happened when the exiles settled in and got cozy with things in the foreign land!!
We are supposed to praise God's name in the manner of Job, The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away. Blesseth be the name of the Lord.
Inspirational to read, not always quite so inspirational to do!!! But His promises stand!!!
Blessings and thanks for a GREAT post!
Hi Krista –
Wow, 8 people in a one bedroom house. You've got lots of experiences to include in your books.
After going around the unemployment bush more than once, I've finally learned to make the most of the time instead of complaining or worrying.
WOW, that sounds like a very hard year! It's amazing how much impact the hard times make on our lives. I'm in a great place right now. I really have no complaints.
Oh, my, Krista. You have no idea how I needed to read this today. I am definitely in exile right now. I'm in a situation I don't want to be in and my husband is sick of hearing about it. Thank you for this post, because I think I need to change my outlook. You are so right, we must surrender before things can change sometimes.
I'll be praying about this for a while. Thanks again!
Excellent thoughts. I'm new here and I think I'm going to like it!
So, so, so true! Not just in writing, but in life. Exile. And what do we do while we're there? I heard a statistic once that we spend 7 years of our lives waiting in lines. It's sort of the same thing, isn't it? Do we grumble and complain in line, or do we laugh and engage in conversation with those around us? I'm afraid I grumble. I do NOT want to spend 7 years of my life grumbling.
That's a great post. For several years we had no cash and felt like we weren't living. It was like exile. We were released from this when we chose to completely lean on God and no longer think of ourselves as broke. As soon as we changed our attitude our financial well filled to overflowing.
Elana, welcome!!! SO glad you stopped by, and you're welcome back anytime:-)
That God is WITH US in exile is what makes everything we do there possible.
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