I have lived on the Plateau for almost one year now. After moving from Minnesota last Oct. 28 to become the area director at Rainier Hills Young Life, we have begun to settle in and everything around us has become more like home with each day.
My wife and I were both born and raised in Minnesota. We met in Minnesota, married in Minnesota, had kids in Minnesota. Our siblings, nieces, nephews, friends and parents live in Minnesota. So, long story short…a lot of who we are is credited to that area.
Since being here in Washington I have been amazed, however, at how little I’ve missed the location we lived. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great state with great physical features: abundant clean, clear lakes, thick dense forests and numerous wildlife. It’s a beautiful place.
The physical geography, however, is not what we miss: I miss the people. I miss watching my kids play with their cousins and sitting down to talk with my dad about car and house troubles. Or having them watch our girls as my wife and I did Young Life on Monday nights; followed by coming home and discussing the evenings events. Which almost always led to me hearing my mom read the girls a story and then tickling their arms and back with her long fingernails as they prepared for sleep.
I really miss my parents. That makes sense though, right? You should miss your parents and your family.
It doesn’t stop there though. I also miss my friends and the middle school and high school friends I worked with. That too makes sense to most. The thing is I also miss the folks in the church I attended and the people at the grocery store. I have even been missing the tough people, the people I struggled to like, let alone love. The people who gave me trouble and the people who even tried to get me fired from my coaching position. I miss them, too. The fact that I miss them even confuses me. Have I lost my mind? Why would I miss them? But I do.
The result of our move has helped me understand something in my life. It’s not things that are important. It’s people. I always said this when I lived in Minnesota but I guess it really didn’t become real until I had to be without people I knew. People are important. It’s because people have been made in God’s image. God, our creator, set us apart by creating us in the likeness of himself.
By no means does this make us a god but it does do something. It gives us intrinsic value. People are valuable. From the easiest to love to those who almost seem unlovable, they each have value. Yet I look at our culture and I see a lot of devaluing of people and life. People always fighting on television, people shooting people and all sorts of other atrocities. Just an overall misunderstanding of the incredible value of each person.
Don’t we know who and what people are? Made in God’s image. Made for a purpose. Made for life. Things that are happening breaks the heart of God.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to point fingers, to shame, to tell you you’re wrong. I am as guilty as anyone else. I just want to share an area of life that I have been challenged in. Both consciously and subconsciously I too have devalued people at times. So what am I saying? Well basically, I no longer want to focus my time as much on things but rather on people and relationships. I no longer want to look at someone and think I am better or they aren’t worth the effort. I hope in my life that I can see people and love people as our creator intended. I know that each one has value and worth because of how they’ve been created and who created them.
Luke 10:27 says we are to “Love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself.” The one flows from the other. Jesus lays it out there and lets us know what has value in life: 1, God; and 2, people. The great part is by loving the Lord we receive grace and truth which then we are able to offer to others so we can love them well. God equips us to do this often challenging task. Let us love people well and Lord help us see their great value.
Emmett Penke writes from Rainier Hills Young Life.