On Living Without

Oct 28, 2011

date night

I believe in stories more than advice. In other words, I believe that a light is shined on our way forward, not when we finally hear the exact, right piece of advice, but when someone shares their story with us.

True stories contain all of the messy, untranslateable details of a life. Somehow, they also point us toward the maker of life.

I wish I could tell you how to live without the kind of community I described earlier this week. I wish I could tell you how to get it back. I even wish I could tell you that developing that kind of community in your own setting is the most important use of your time. But I can’t tell you these things.

If this whole Jesus-following-way-of-life is truly a relationship (as I’ve been hearing all my life) then we need to stop comparing our circumstances with everyone else’s. My marriage to Jonathan is fifteen-years-old (or fifteen-years-good), and it makes no sense for me to look at those still-awkward newlyweds and wonder why our lives are so different. Other than the fruits of the spirit, I’m not sure there are many things we can point to in order to say “that is a good Christian life” and “that is not.” At times Jesus walks us through joy and other times he walks us through trouble, but we can be confident in both that he has not and will not abandon us.

I lived in community for ten years, and it was good and it was painful, and I hope I haven’t said goodbye to that way of life forever. I could beat my head against my Bible wondering why my life no longer looks like that and how to get it back, or I can accept that when God empties our lives he also fills them up again. Not with the things we are missing, necessarily, but with himself.

In this world, we are wanderers. And that is not always a bad thing, not always a sin thing. We can wander quite a distance pursuing the good things of God’s kingdom on earth. Still, there’s little rest in wandering, and God knows we need rest. But where to find it?

God’s people “wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place” (Jeremiah 50:6).

Sometimes we need silence and emptiness, loneliness and barrenness in order to remember. We need winter.

The four walls of my suburban existence can feel like a prison, but they have been just the thing for feeling the heavy, holy pressure of God’s hand on me.

“You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”

Psalm 139: 5-6


  1. Lisa Ulrich

    beatifully written! I love that line, “We need winter” so much truth to that one line. Things must die in order for new life to come again. I can’t imagine leaving Spokane with the community that is around us, but who knows… we may all end up in KS after all 😉 *hugs*

    • Christie Purifoy

      Thank you, Lisa! I’ll always be in awe of how God can weave brokenness (winter, death) into a beautiful story. Hope and pray you’re feeling the truth of that in your own day to days.

  2. Eun Lech

    Well said! “The four walls of my suburban existence can feel like a prison, but they have been just the thing for feeling the heavy, holy pressure of God’s hand on me…”
    (We have some catching up to do….I relate with so much of what you have written on this blog as I have experienced and grown through my “winter” experiences….God has proven Himself to be more powerful, kind, and loving…) He gives us Himself. He knows me. He knows how much easier it is for me to invest in relationships that I can see, feel, and touch. When all along, His companionship and friendship is the most beautiful and supreme….even though it is mysterious. Sometimes in the absence of “community”( in the ways I have known it), He has more of my attention and gaze… bringing me to newer and deeper places of worship…if my soul will follow..

    • Christie Purifoy

      We do have some catching up to do, Eun! I sense you have a lot of hard-earned wisdom to share.

  3. Danielle Diehl

    Beautiful Christie. I find the winters here in Chicago difficult. Although less difficult the older the kids get (remember winter in the city with little kids? torture!). But I appreciate winter more, the physical reminders of the paths God leads us in–death, spring, summer, etc. I felt like such a wanderer as a single person. Trying to be patient, never feeling like I was where I wanted to be, and feeling guilty about it. It’s so hard to live contented and peaceful and purposeful when you’re not living where (physically or otherwise) you want to be living. I suppose it’s a lesson we learn over and over. Living as a singleton. or living out of community. or living with sickness. or drowning in grief.
    sorry, I was digressing and getting lost in my thoughts…

    • Christie Purifoy

      I agree completely, Danielle – the need for contentment no matter what “winter” place we find ourselves in (and I think that unwanted singleness is a good example) is something we’ll be faced with again and again. I hope I’m growing stronger in this, but I wonder sometimes …



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