Most common questions I’ve heard in the last 6 months:
“Why did you move?”
These 2 blog posts kind of sum up why we moved out of Orlando. These are the conversations I have on a regular basis with people we meet here in the Atlanta area from church.
If you missed Part 1, here you go https://journeytoatlanta.com/2012/05/07/we-moved-part-1/
Wow, that was kind of a downer. I promise this post won’t be so much.
I had the privilege of knowing 3 of my great-grandparents. We had several meals together, and spent several holidays in the same homes. I remember each of their funerals, and actually spoke a piece I had written at one when I was a teenager.
I remember bits and pieces of memories of the three of them.
Grandmother Houpt took ridiculously great care of her skin. To the point that even when she was mostly bedridden I would walk in to visit with her and the first thing she would do was reach out and grab my hands. And then force me to squeeze some Jergens all over them before we talked. It was slightly uncomfortable.
Grandma Strickland cracked herself up with her incredibly inappropriate humor. Nothing like me as a 10 year old hearing my great grandma joke about having sex with my great grandpa at our family Christmas.
Grandpa Strickland laughed at everything Grandma Strickland said. They actually spent most of the time making each other laugh. My most vivid memory of him is that any time he would be asked to pray, he would weep. I didn’t understand it as a child, but I eventually learned that he used to be considered one of the most wicked men around town. He’d beat his wife and his kids as if it was just another routine part of the day. Then one day my Grandpa became friends with Jesus. And for the rest of his life every time he bowed his head to pray, he openly wept with gratitude b/c God loved him enough to change his life for the better.
A couple of years ago I started thinking about my great grandparents. About the fact that I knew 3 of them and most of my friends usually didn’t know all of their regular grandparents. I knew them until I was a teenager when they passed away. I spent a lot of time with them. I loved them. I felt that they loved me.
But I can’t tell you much about them.
I have no idea what their careers were. No idea what their friends were like. I couldn’t tell you what their average yearly income was. No idea about the cars they drove. I literally have no idea of how popular they were as students, or as co-workers, or as neighbors. No idea what they did to serve in the churches that they attended. No clue about the square footage in the houses they lived in. Where they loved to vacation. What their savings plan for retirement was.
I honestly had to look up to remember what their first names were. And that is just 3 generations ahead of me
A couple of years ago this idea really begin to settle into my heart. The idea that I barely know anything about people in my own family just a few generations apart. People that I actually knew and had relationships with.
The more I thought about this, the more the questioned begged. Actually, the question groaned and overwhelmed. The question grew from a small whisper to an overwhelming avalanche crushing all other questions and all other thoughts currently on my mind and in my life.
And here is the question I asked myself day after day…
“Jason, what are you pursuing? And who will remember it?”
The American Dream.
Being known as a decent musician.
Being known as a great communicator.
Being better than the average person in my community.
Being out of debt by the time I reached 30 years old.
Having a “great” name.
I mean, that’s biblical. Good name is better than riches.
And the overwhelming answer that the memory of 3 great grandparents that I knew was shouting at me repeatedly:
Why am I pursuing to build up/cling to a name/a reputation/a legacy that just a few generations from now, my own family probably won’t know.
They might read my name on some genealogy sheet. And then they’ll turn the page, having no idea of the name that I have spent most of my life trying to build up.
All of the things that I place at the forefront of my life as things I want to do, and things I want people to know about me…
they will eventually be forgotten.
In Orlando, Brittany and I had some ridiculously good jobs. We were making quite a bit of money for our age and having no kids. We had some amazing family and friends that were a short drive to meet up with. A lot of people at church knew who we were b/c we were allowed the opportunity to serve in capacities that put our faces and our talents on display.
We could have stayed in Orlando and had an incredibly comfortable life. I really mean that. And probably achieved a ton of the things, intrinsic and materialistic, that would have made our names look really good by the time we died.
And then a few generations would go by…
and nobody would remember any of it.
So we started to shift our focus. And I believe God allowed and used all of the things in Part 1 of this post that were negative in my life to join in with this idea that there was really only one Name to pursue.
That in the grand scheme of all of humanity, Brittany and I are allowed this little hiccup in time to spend on earth. And people won’t remember much about us because the story of humanity and redemption isn’t about Brittany and Jason Avera.
It is about Jesus.
And long after my great grandparents are completely forgotten about. And nobody remembers the Jergens skin and the inappropriate jokes and Jason’s blogs and how great Brittany is with kids…
people will still be talking about Jesus.
We felt God calling us out of Orlando and into the Atlanta area.
But that’s not going to look good on your resume. And you are going to make so much less money. And you won’t be a short drive from your best friends. And you are giving up your “ministry” and influence in your church…
and on and on
in the simplest way to put it, we decided that pursuing Jesus and where he was leading us was better than pursuing a legacy of our own that eventually our own family will forget.
and that was scary.
But we didn’t want to be 50 years old and living in Orlando. And financially well off for the rest of our lives. With tons of long lasting friendships. And significant influence in ministry…
and feel like we totally missed out on what Jesus was leading us towards.
We have no idea why we are in the Atlanta area.
But Jesus does.
And we are trusting that whatever He wants to do with our short lives in the grand scheme of humanity to be the “light of the word”, and reflect what God is really like…
is far superior to the legacy we could create for ourselves.
“by His own hand, He leadeth me”