Country Mouse, City Mouse: Which One Are You?

City Mouse, Country Mouse

I loved the conversation that occurred on yesterday’s post, Are We Persecuting Ourselves?  And I liked the article Molly wrote too. She wasn’t trying to tell anyone what to do. She was raising good questions. Questions some of us want to mull over.

I know that almost every single woman reading this blog runs in certain Christian circles. If you don’t run in a circle, you are living on an island by yourself. Or you’re dead. But we all do tend to gravitate toward thinking, along with everyone else in our circle, that what we do is the most spiritual and right thing, or we wouldn’t be doing it, right? (I’m just exposing average Wemmick thinking here.)

And that’s why I loved the article; because it tipped one scale the other direction just a wee bit. In my humble opinion, scales need tipping once in a while. Hence, the Pendulum Posts. They force me to think through what I believe and why I believe it.

Do we want to do things just because everyone around us is doing them? Or do we want to do things because we have thought carefully through all sides of an issue and then made our choice? Are we also ready to take responsibility for the outcome of that choice rather than blaming the crowd for telling us what to do when the choice backfires for some reason?

There was a comment yesterday that implied that a certain group was following the Shepherd while another group was not. This struck me as a perfect example of the potential, subtle problem Molly was trying to address. Which mouse is following the Shepherd, (sheep aside for just a moment)? The country mouse or the city mouse? We’ve got to know these things so we can make all the right choices and have good feelings about ourselves, right?

Many years ago, shortly after we moved to our first home in the burbs, there was a call on many of the Christians in the church where we worshiped to move into the heart of Minneapolis in order to start a new urban church and reach that city for Christ. We were surrounded by Christians “on mission.” It was exciting, and there was a pull on us.

We eventually realized God was not calling us to that ministry, so we stayed put. It felt like a boring decision, and maybe even some folks thought we made the wrong decision, because it wasn’t the decision THEY made, but we set to work raising our new family and had four children in that home and reached out to our neighbors as best we could.

We are not a very spectacular family, and we have not done very spectacular things. Probably a lot like 99% of the world population. Probably a lot like you. (Hello. Nice to meet you.)

After ten years we moved to another church home AND another home in the burbs about 2 miles away and added five more children to our family. We had been immersing ourselves in books, teachings, and conversations with other Christians who were “on mission” to come away from the world and be separate. Naturally we started feeling a pull to the country and to starting a home business.

Last year we decided that God was not calling us to that mission either. It felt like a boring decision, and maybe even some folks thought we made the WRONG decision, because it wasn’t the decision THEY made, but here we are, still in the burbs, raising our family as best we can. (I did start a home business though, earning me extra credit points with the entrepreneur crowd.)

Why am I telling you this simple anecdote? It’s not because my little story has any “right” or “wrong” to it. It’s not because living in the burbs is the best place to be for all of you – and me too (although I must say that the burbs IS the perfect combination of both the country and the city, making it, quite possibly, the most spiritually balanced option of them all as it pleases everyone – God AND all your fellow Wemmicks – since you have a lot of potential converts in your neighborhood AND you may or may not be able to raise chickens in your backyard depending on your city’s zoning laws, but even if chickens are out of the question, you can ALWAYS grow herbs and vegies and pursue a healthy lifestyle – even possibly selling them as a side business). It’s not because I think you “should” and you “ought” to do this or that. Because frankly, I’m not God, and I’m not walking your journey, and it isn’t my business what God is doing in your life or the lives of your children.

You may be doing either one and be disobeying God – or obeying Him – depending on a thousand factors I’m not aware of. We’re so paralyzed by fear of whether or not we are doing the right thing, when most of what we do is neither right nor wrong. It’s just a free choice God gives to all human beings.

You see, where you and I live, whether or not our kids go to college, and whether or not we run a home business or work for someone else has less to do with right and wrong and more to do with the gazillion things that God is doing in and through us and every single child under our roof wherever He has placed us and doing whatever He has called us, specifically, to do.

My almost 20-year-old son will likely be meeting a nice girl in the next few years and getting married. If we had moved to the city – that girl might be different than if we had moved to the country – than if we had stayed in the burbs. Which we did. Who that girl is will dictate who my grandchildren are and how they are raised and even possibly where THEY live, not to mention all the ways, both big and small, that their existence will change the world.

The vocations my boys select will also have a ripple effect on their personal lives, and maybe even on the world. And this is only the first snowflake on the tip of the iceberg of what God is doing in our family. And He’s doing all of that in your family too.

And while I’m blabbing here, I might add that God probably isn’t so concerned about what we all DO with our lives (we Wemmicks are the ones all wrapped up in that sort of thing) as much as He is concerned with our RELATIONSHIPS with Himself, first, and also with other human souls. This relationship is THE JOURNEY. Not the destination. And the journey, my friends, lasts an eternity.

By the way, I really, really, really, really (oh please, oh please, oh please Lord) hope that one day – in that great eternity – I get to live…

in the country.

(Just sayin’. And prayin’.)

Natalie Klejwa is a Wemmick, loved by the Woodcarver, wife of 22 years to Joe, and mother to 9 Wemmicks ages 2-20. She is a business owner (Apple Valley Natural Soap), founder and administrator of the Visionary Womanhood blog, publisher and contributing author of Three Decades of Fertility, You Can Do it Too! 25 Families Share Their Stories, and The Heart of Simplicity: Foundations for Christian Homemaking.

You can hear her being interviewed on Kevin Swanson's Generations with Vision radio program.

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14 thoughts on “Country Mouse, City Mouse: Which One Are You?

  1. I really appreciate your balance and commitment to truth. I can be too easily swayed by someone’s idea of what is right, when God may not be calling me in that direction at that time. We are a military family, so we don’t get to choose in which part of the country or world we live at any given time, though we generally have some choice in the neighborhood and house. I have to trust God to place us where He wants us and seek to please Him wherever we are. Sometimes even my husband and I have differing ideals as far as the type of life we should lead. I am called to honor God by submitting to my husband, regardless of my personal preferences or what others think I should be doing. I still long for more children and a life in the country, but that is not where God has me and that is okay.

  2. Nice to meet you, too! (coming from another not-very-spectacular person)
    And though you might be “blabbing”, it’s a good sort of blabbing! Thanks.

    And your comment, “We’re so paralyzed by fear of whether or not we are doing the right thing, when most of what we do is neither right nor wrong. It’s just a free choice God gives to all human beings.” is so true.

    We either are afraid that we won’t have the outcome that someone else has, or we worry that some important ‘thing’ won’t work out. Fear….it’s a dangerous thing.
    God is calling me to trust. Simply. Trust.
    Blessings,
    Terry

  3. I, too, agree whole-heartedly with what you’ve said here. It’s not about where we live or whether we or our children go to college, it’s about how we live for Jesus. We are to live for Him wherever He puts us.

    However, I can’t help but believe that the post that started the “conversation” is being terribly misrepresented. “Are We Persecuting Ourselves” did not read to me as if it was suggesting that we can live where we wish and that others should not think they are more spiritual that we are if they make an opposite choice. That post absolutely reads to me to be against the decisions some people are making to move to a rural setting and to choose an alternate form of education for the college years.

    Some examples from the post:

    “These were their strategies to weaken Christianity in that nation:…I see disturbing trends in some Christian circles…”

    “1.There is a self-imposed rejection of higher education by a growing number of Christians.
    2.Entrepreneurship is often promoted over other career choices, which could lead to a de facto retreat from any position that requires working for someone outside one’s own family. This would preclude many influential careers in government, big business, higher education, etc.
    3.A movement towards homesteading is leading some Christians to relocate to extremely rural settings, thereby diminishing their gospel influence in society.”

    “In the end this trend may be the enemy playing on our fears and attacking us along the path of least resistance.

    If he cannot compromise us, he will seek to marginalize us.

    In this case he may have found a way to get many of us to marginalize ourselves.”

    These seem to me to be statements that not only condemn other Christian’s choices but suggest that those choices are of Satan.

    Even in the paragraph where Molly states that she is not saying it is wrong for some families to make these choices, she says these “choices…could marginalize us and remove our gospel witness from the public square if they become too prevalent.” That just reads as a negative pronouncement on those choices to me.

    If I’ve not read the original post correctly, I’m very willing to stand corrected. If I have read it correctly, I think the discussion has veered off-track to the point where we are not discussing the same ideas.

    • i read the original post too and did hear that at all. I just heard someone raising some questions about a large direction much of the Christian homeschooling movement is pulling toward. I actually do many of the things that she was questioning. We live in a small town and raise our own rabbits, have our own businesses and likely will not be sending our children to a brick and mortar college when they graduate homeschool. But what I heard her saying was that we need to be raising questions about why we do what we do. Is it because we see clear direction from Scripture and a call from the Lord or because our friends are doing or because a prominent Christian leader is promoting it.

      • Jennifer, you read it exactly the way it was meant to be read then. Molly actually believes that all of those things are good in many ways. Her family actually does some of them – and so do we. We shouldn’t be afraid to question our own reasoning and motives. I’ve seen so many Christians (myself included) who have regretted certain decisions and realized later that they only did them because everyone around them was pressuring them to do so – or they wouldn’t be considered “godly.” This is hog wash and the temptation to make decisions this way needs to be examined in all of our lives regularly. And I might add that many times those who are teaching certain things (leaders of organizations or churches) are NOT the ones saying “everyone should do this.” It’s the people listening who take it to an extreme and make it “the godly way” to do something. I’ve seen that more times than I care to remember.

    • Apparently, Lona, you and I misunderstood the author’s intent. I, too, read the original post the same as you did. I’m glad to see I was wrong, but at the same time, the original post seemed very unbalanced.

      Thank you, Natalie, for a balanced post.

    • From the comments I see that I did read “Are We Persecuting Ourselves” incorrectly. As Sarah said, I am glad to see I was wrong. Please forgive any comments I made that were uncomfortable for you, Molly, my sister. It was my misunderstanding.

  4. Hi Lona,
    Jennifer and Natalie have understood my position correctly and I am in agreement with their comments here. I will seek to clarify it more, but for the sake of the archives I will move the discussion back to the original post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Hello, nice to meet you,too! =)

    I am not a spectacular person, nor do I live a spectacular life. I am a wife and mother seeking to please God in all I do. I am also the commenter who, apparently, sparked this post with my mention of “sheep following the Shepherd”. I gave a detailed reply to that on the previous post “Are We Persecuting Ourselves?”, so will not do so here.

    It is unfortunate that the conclusion that was drawn from my previous comment was that I would think one group “holier” than another. I made other points in that comment, too, but they were overlooked. I was trying to draw attention to this: *Perhaps* those (sheep) are following the Shepherd. And that we all, no matter how we are living our lives, are supposed to be following the Shepherd.

    I just wanted to say how much I appreciate this post. It is well balanced and does not draw conclusions that fall on one side or the other of this conversation. In truth, the way one lives falls within “Christian liberty” (as noted in Molly’s original post), so long as one is living in God’s will (i.e. following the Word and not sinning).

    Thank you, Natalie, for all the work you have put into Visionary Womanhood.

  6. Ah, God’s law is freeing. Read the Westminster Larger Catechism on the 10 commandments. God’s law defines sin and frees us from the opinions of men. “Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!” Psalm 119:29

  7. I am a farmwife to a 6th generation farmer and I have to say, I loved Molly’s post!

    I meet a lot of women who say they want to be out in the country, live off the land, and all that. I tell them, while it’s an amazing way to live and we are certainly blessed, it takes a whole lot of time… and when something takes a lot of your time, it doesn’t leave time for other things. Things that God might be calling them to do.
    When you’re busy canning your produce (enough to last you a year), you don’t have time to drive to town to go to your church’s VBS or volunteer for outreach programs for summer, city kids.
    When you are busy harvesting (or even planting in the spring), your husband may not be able to go to church every Sunday because you are trying to take advantage of nice weather and get corn and other crops in… so it might be too hard for your husband to serve the church weekly.
    In the winter, the roads may be too icy to make the long trek to church (country roads aren’t priority to get salted first), so it’s hard to be a volunteer nursery worker because you never know if weather will make you stay home.
    Wednesday night service? Awanas? These wonderful programs are such an amazing resource for children… but, the country things I listed above and the time it takes to get to church and back with little ones, makes a farmer rethink taking their kids to them.
    Making absolute commitments can be tough because a cow might get sick… or escape, ewes need help with lambing, and on and on. Unforeseen things can happen which can make other equally important things go by the wayside.
    The gas budget for vehicles will probably be higher in the country (it takes longer to get to here or there) which takes away from money that could be used toward giving to charities.

    So imagine if everyone was out in the country… God uses so many townspeople for His purpose too. Because He needs their TIME to do the work He has called them to do.

    Then after I remind them of these things… I remind them to buy local! Call your local farmers and support them in the work God has called them to do. :)