When I’m not in Toronto, I live in a small, sleepy town that is wide open fields, with one stoplight to its name. It’s a farming town; routinely, you’ll be driving behind a large vehicle or trying to figure out when is the best time to pass a tractor. It’s a quiet little town. There may not be sirens squealing through the night, but the low, blaring of a horn from a train has been known to blow late in the night. The sunrises and sunsets are vivid - the pinks, orange, yellow always fall into deepening shades of blue, and the stars at night look like Jesus pulled a pinhole filled blanket over heavens light.
My first visit to this small sleepy town was seven years ago this past January. Up until that point, I was adamant on not visiting Jarvis, because I thought if I didn’t visit, my mom wouldn’t move us there, or get married, or uproot my entire known life. As you can tell, I was a calm & rational 15 and a half year old. For months, I was kicking and screaming about these impending life changes, essentially throwing a temper tantrum with God, my mom, & anyone who had a heartbeat.
It would be the understatement of 2009 to say I did not want to move to Jarvis. There were reasons for that: I didn’t want to leave the church & I didn’t want to leave the community. I liked our house, situated in a small hamlet, with a sub-division in the back. I liked being able to walk to a park and babysitting jobs. I liked its closeness to everything, how it was tucked away in the quiet, but not the kind of quiet that accompanies wide open fields. & then there were subtle reasons I’m still unpacking: that house felt stable. That house felt like it carried years of my mom’s grit & determination to get through all the hard stuff that had been tossed our way.
There were too many new introductions, too many big changes, & too many people who had to leave. At 15, it felt like too much. So I kicked. I screamed. The kicking is metaphorical, the screaming is literal. I threw a lot of temper tantrums, and whined about how life wasn’t fair. I holed up in my room, writing letters to people who were gone, trying to figure out how I could be better to make them stay. I cried on the phone to a lot of people. I refused to paint bedroom walls in Jarvis until there was a ring on my mother’s finger, I refused to be the helpful older daughter everyone was telling me to be.
But then there was a summer of pausing, reflecting, and growing. Then a ring came, and then a beautiful wedding came, and then a move came. Then there were growing pains - as there always are - & then there was a graduation, and a move, and now I’m here, between two addresses: Toronto & Jarvis.
I spent a lot of time in Jarvis over the Christmas break, binge watching Netflix, scanning old family photographs, writing resumes, playing cards with my family, and reflecting on all the possibilities of life after April 30. I kept thinking back to how little I wanted to move here. How much I kicked and screamed because I didn’t like the immediate changes my life was going through.
I look at my life these days, and I’m seeing first hand what happens when God turns all of your kicking, screaming, yelling, anger, & temper tantrums into beauty.
I’m thankful that God is a God who doesn’t always listen to immediate me - especially when immediate me is kicking & screaming incoherent things - but is always looking out for the long-term me. I am thankful that when my vision can only see a day in front of me, His Grace stretches throughout my life. He hems me in from behind, re-framing my past in ways I never expected. He goes before me, bringing up ways in the wilderness that I didn’t expect, & sneaking in beauty in places I had long ago written off. Like Jarvis.
I’m forever - to this day - trying to write off Jarvis as being an important place in my story. But it is incredibly important. Because I didn’t think I would find beauty or comfort or peace or hope or love in a silly one stop town, known only for its Cornfest - & yet, I did. I didn’t think I would learn about humility or hard work or sacrifice living on a smelly farm - but I did. I didn’t think I would pause at home, watching the sun light up the sky with golden hues, savouring the feeling of being home with a family that finally feels stable & whole - but I do. I didn’t think I would step outside on a clear evening, and feel my breath catch in my throat as I look up at stars, with bright lights punctuating every fleck of darkness - but I do, every single time I’m home.
I wasn’t expecting to find beauty here. But I think that speaks to who God is: someone who takes beauty & hides it in the most unexpected of places.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I know we will go through different seasons of life, and there will be hard seasons. There will be seasons we don’t want to go through. There will be kicking & screaming seasons, the seasons where you throw temper tantrums because you didn’t want your life to look like this.
I know it will feel like you are being dragged through this kind of season, all the while throwing your temper tantrum.
I know it will be a determined fight to move to a quieter, easier season.
I know it will be hard to give up the kicking & screaming.
I also know there’s beauty at the end of it all. Maybe the beauty won’t be sunsets, walks around the pond, arm chairs, good cups of tea, or starry nights for you. Maybe it will be beaches with golden sand, or trees with roots that wrap around other roots. Maybe the beauty will be found in a mountaintop, or found in a valley. Or maybe you will find it in your own open field town, with one stoplight to its name.
But after the kicking and screaming - even during the kicking & screaming - God is turning it all into beauty.