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Scripture calls us to seek God’s goodness in community, not in private.

There’s a small note pinned to my refrigerator asking me to bring ham biscuits to the church dinner. It’s signed with a quick heart and a simple B. It’s also two years old.

Although my husband and I both grew up in rural communities, neither of us grew up in the one where we now live, having moved here when Small Brick Church called him as pastor. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to live here long term. It was only an hour from his parents, and our children were beginning to need the kind of stability that comes from living with the same people for years rather than months. So we bought a house and started to put down roots.

But knowing that we wanted to live with this community is not the same thing as the community knowing whether they wanted to live with us. The established rhythms and distinct identity that we find so appealing of small communities also have a way of keeping outsiders at arm’s length. Ours is the kind of community where children attend school in the same building their mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and even grandmothers and grandfathers once did—the kind of community to guard who brings the ham biscuits to church dinners. I have hope that our children will eventually be able to lay claim to it, but my husband and I will always be from Somewhere Else.

Besides being an outsider, I don’t think I’m what folks had in mind for a pastor’s wife. Sure, I can make pie and play the piano and wear my pearls. But I also grew up just far enough north of the Mason-Dixon Line to not know how to say “Yes, ma’am” and “No, ma’am” convincingly. I can be pretty stubborn when the moment calls for it. And my work as an author and speaker …

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