Who are we when no one is telling us how to behave or who to become?
On Friday, June 18 we signed the paperwork to our new house in Fairfield, Connecticut. That evening, we took our kids to Jennings Beach for a community event. “Club Sand Jam” was in full effect that night with the DJ rocking, and the beach flooded with families waiting to watch Trolls World Tour. Our kids were dancing their tails off, and Princess Poppy even made an appearance.
We had a pinch-yourself moment as we looked at each other and realized this was now where we lived. However, we realized something else in that moment. Outside of the attorney and realtor who we had been with that morning, nobody on that beach knew who we were.
There’s freedom in being totally and utterly anonymous. If you want to cupid shuffle with Princess Poppy as a fully grown adult, you’re more than welcome to do your thing. If you want to sit off to the side and snuggle with your kids creating a family moment because no one within your sight is going to ask you for something, you can do it.
But there’s also a sense of disconnection that comes with being anonymous. Nobody at Jennings Beach on June 18 knew our names, knew our stories, knew our hearts. We weren’t just anonymous, we were alone.
So who do you become when nobody expects you to be anything?
Anonymity has a strange way of revealing who we really are. Paul said at one point in his ministry that he had become all things to all people so that he could share the good news of Christ with everyone. Paul had trouble early in his ministry overcoming his prior reputation as a persecutor of Christ followers. His anonymity around the world may have made his ministry more fruitful than his local, established reputation permitted. I wonder if Paul was more himself in Jerusalem, Damascus, Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus…etc.
I wonder if all those places became part of who Paul was, and that’s why could say he became all things to all people. He became each of the places he inhabited. Part of each of those places became part of Paul.
We are suburbanites from Chicagoland who became Central Illinoisans before landing in New England. Our window of anonymity here will be short, but the way this place shapes us will be eternal. We are becoming this place for the sake of sharing good news with these people, and we believe this place will become part of us as we open our hearts to Fairfield County.
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them…I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings (1 Corinthians 9.19, 22b-23, ESV).