Getting Planted in My Place

When I joined Navigators Neighbors, I felt like a real misfit. Why? Because I’ve always felt more like a potted plant than a robustly rooted bush. And because—even after 10 years in the same house—I was not well connected locally, and I didn’t really want to be!

You see, I began “living above place” as a child: We military “brats” learn early not to get attached to any place, since we’ll just be uprooted in a few years when our dads get new orders. Serving as a Navigator missionary for 15 years in two African countries reinforced that childhood message. Love people, of course. But as a “sent one” you shouldn’t get too attached to geography because you may never see your places or local friends again.

When a family crisis brought me back to the United States suddenly—prematurely—I stubbornly called Denver “Babylon” because I felt I was in forced exile. Not a very good mindset for learning to live in place!

Ten years ago my elderly mother came to live with me. We selected a home in a retirees’ neighborhood, more for her needs than for mine. After all, I’m still called to minister among the younger generation—not senior citizens. (Confession: I am a senior citizen!) Being an introvert and single and traveling a lot didn’t help me connect. And I have lots of dear friends all over the world and Navigator friends nearby. So who needs local friends?

Then Mom passed away and I suddenly had more time and energy for other relationships.

God really got my attention a few months ago when I wanted to go to a concert on the spur of the moment, but I couldn’t think of anyone to invite along. While driving home alone that evening, I heard the Lord say, “Judy, if you’re going to live in Parker, it’s time you started really living in Parker!” Everything I’ve been learning in the Navigators Neighbors Initiative suddenly made sense—even for me! God opened my eyes to look beyond my block to other places I frequent—or could begin frequenting.
Since then I have:

  • Begun quilting with Sue, a neighbor
  • Joined a Sunday school class that meets over the Word and gathers socially a few times a month
  • Met new people through our local historical society’s walking tours and high tea events
  • Joined an aqua-aerobics class at the rec center—and learned to hang out afterward
  • Volunteered to serve at my HOA pool opening party and swapped airport rides with neighbors
  • Visited a ladies’ bunco night (OK, the game is super boring, but the women are diverse and interesting)
  • Hosted our block’s Fourth of July party on my deck overlooking the Front Range of the Rockies
I confess that my neighboring habits used to look woefully like my non-gardening habits (buy five to six potted plants in the spring for the front porch and toss them out in the fall). But I’ve sensed the Lord nudging me out of my social pots and planting me in the soil of my neighborhood. I am excited to be trusting God to help me grow in really living in my place. Not a bad start for an introverted, single Navigators Neighbors wannabe, huh?

Judy Gomoll has been on staff with The Navigators for 33 years, 15 as a missionary in Uganda and Kenya. Currently she ministers to women in Denver and serves on the SHAW (Sexual Health And Wholeness) team.