The Caterpillar in the Parking Lot

Almost any time we tell someone that we sold our stuff and moved into a 5th wheel to travel across the country, people inevitably respond, “Ahh I’ve always wanted to do that!” You sure? So far, we’ve...

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October 13, 2022
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The Caterpillar in the Parking Lot

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Trip Destination: San Diego, CA

Trip Purpose: Planting Churches through The Oasis Project, our new church planting effort, in partnership with OCNWTR and SUR Coffee

Current Location: Missouri River, SD

Almost any time we tell someone that we sold our stuff and moved into a 5th wheel to travel across the country, people inevitably respond, “Ahh I’ve always wanted to do that!” You sure? So far, we’ve slept at a truck stop with a toddler and an infant with no heat in the RV, our refrigerator stopped working when it was warm out, our heat stopped working when it was cold out, one of our slide outs ripped a closet door off and broke the hinges and broke the wood framing on the slide out, our $500 GPS took us into un-RV-able construction areas — twice, and we’ve been stuck in the same RV park on the Missouri River for almost a week and can’t leave due to high winds, etc.

Yet if you asked us how we are doing right now — we’d probably say, “Better than ever.” Let me explain.

We live in a world that celebrates expediency and attention from others. But right now through my family, I’m re-learning a world where currency is a stillness of the mind that allows an acute attention on what’s happening in this very moment. Right now. This world allows for me to loosen my grip on teaching and reaching for influence and gives me permission to find solace in digging and discovering what’s wonderful in everyday life. Olivia, my daugher, has taught me them most. We can learn a lot of useful life lessons from tiny people that still pee on themselves sometimes, if we pay attention.

If my attention is always on the next event or circumstance that can charge me up then I’ll never stop looking for the bigger and the better, and my appetite will never be satisfied. Yet if my seeking is for the discovery and in curiosity of what is happening right here and now, I’ll never run out of the interesting and wonderful.

We unintentionally train our kids to need the spectacular in order to be satisfied. We provide the best gifts and movies and entertainment and parties that we can find or put together. These things are thrust into their world, but how often at Christmas do we say, “I should have just gotten you the cardboard box since that’s all you’re playing with.” So then why don’t we just give them the cardboard box and let them explore and create?

You know what Olivia’s favorite gift is? A rock that I found on the beach in California that she can’t wait to go throw back in the ocean when we arrive there.

You know what one of the best parts of Olivia’s day is when we travel? Un-mounting Lukas’ bed from the wall. Do you know what one of the least favorite parts of my day was? Yep, exactly. What was once a hinderance to our leaving on time has now become a daddy-daughter ritual where she’s learned to identify a bolt, washer and nut and she’s felt a deep sense of accomplishment as she helps contribute to the family by participating in an important part of our departures.

In a hectic pursuit to our destination, I would be missing this trip. I would be teaching my daughter to miss this trip. We would get to wherever we think we are going and expect the destination to fill us in a way that it never would.

Once we are addicted to the dopamine overload, we don’t want to feel the crash anymore or the boredom any longer and in pursuit of more, we miss it.

Miss what? The caterpillar in the parking lot.

Here’s a quick story from our trip:

We were still in Iowa, I think. We needed gas and the kids needed a break, so we found a gas station that looked spacious and stopped. My mind naturally goes to, “Get gas, entertain your kids for 5 minutes and get back on the road — we have somewhere to be tonight. We’ve gotta keep moving. I don’t want to set up in the dark and I have work to do tomorrow.” Ready, break!

After filling up and having a talkative gas station attendant make a poorly timed joke about wanting to have our truck and 5th wheel, we pulled around to the outer edge of the gas station by a field so that I could run around with Olivia before shoving her back in the car. I got her out of her seat and set her on the ground and ran to the grassy area with a manufactured excitement designed to get her to chase me. She took 3 or 4 steps and noticed a caterpillar. Or maybe I pointed it out in passing thinking she would see it and keep running. Either way, it now had her undivided attention. It had a big black head and it had a long coat of amber colored fur all along it’s mushy little body. I couldn’t get Olivia away from this dumb thing. I tried handstands, crawling, running, prodding. “It’s just a caterpillar!”

Finally, I surrendered. I took a piece of grass and got down on my knees and after a few attempts and a lot of laughter, I got it to crawl up the grass and as it flipped upside down we were delighted as we watched its tiny little v shaped legs latch on for dear life. On this trip we’ve seen mountains hiked to a few beautiful locations and caught fish and we’ve started fires and eaten great food and we’ve seen shooting stars. But do you know what my favorite memory is so far? That dumb bug at that dirty gas station.

My daughter doesn’t need a dad that rushes about providing extra things for her to have. She needs a dad that becomes like her and gives her his full attention. She needs a dad that becomes like her in pursuit of her.

My legacy doesn’t require that I change the world and have all the stuff and impact that I could ever want. It requires living a life worth following in the terrible, the mundane and the wonderful.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. — Matthew 18: 1–5