Hello, my name is Rachel Greene, and we may have met before.
If you’re looking at my blog title–Road to Grinnell–and wondering if you’ve heard that name before, you’re probably correct. While this blog is new, the branding of “Road to Grinnell” has been around for over 9 years now.
Almost a decade ago, under my then-maiden name Rachel Petersen, I started a small craft business. I had just graduated from high school and had no interest in going into debt for a college degree I didn’t need, so I was looking for a way to monetize my talents and start expanding my horizons. I designed crochet patterns and sold miscellaneous fiber and paper arts. I achieved some success, and my patterns are still available today on Ravelry; you can see the fossilized evidence of this on my Twitter archive.
When asked how I got my business name–Road to Grinnell–I told people that Grinnell was the name of a small town in Iowa where I had spent the majority of my formative years. In Grinnell, I had had everything: a church, friends, a 4H group, and a discipleship group. We knew people at the grocery store, the library. Extended family was only a few hours away. It was community. It was home.
My family had left Grinnell unwillingly–Dad’s work had required the move–and any of us would have moved back in a heartbeat. We had moved to two different states in the course of three years, and in neither of them had we found the same sense of community. We lacked a solid church and consistent friends, and none of us kids had any groups or activities. We didn’t find the same community we had in Iowa. Hence the name: Road to Grinnell. I wanted to find the road to Grinnell, the road back home, and my business name was a hopeful plea that my heart would find its way back into a community.
That never happened.
Not only did my family never move back to Iowa, as our residency in our current state stretched on year after year, but we never found community where we were at. My only “friends” were work colleagues, and the only times I went out were to babysit to neighbors. I didn’t have any groups, any activities, or a church. I went upwards of five years without attending a single church service.
To make matters worse, my craft business started to fail. I was still good at creating, but the basic functions required to run a business (promoting, going to craft fairs, etc.) were giving me massive fits of anxiety. I didn’t know how to label it at the time, but the stress and interaction was aggravating my growing depression. I stopped crafting. I stopped writing. I isolated myself by working two jobs and literally never being home, never going out, and never interacting with anyone except coworkers who were content to let me vent my anxiety by obsessively cleaning.
All the while, my understanding of God, religion, and church evaporated. There was a lot going on at the time–fear-based religion was the biggest force that kept pushing me down–which I’ll expound on in a later blog post when I give my full testimony. But in the meantime, I was homeless. I lost hope of finding community where I was. I gave up on looking for a church. I drew in and let go. I thought that, maybe, if I sever connections, it will take the pain with it. I lost sight of home. I lost sight of Grinnell.
And then I tried to kill myself.
By that time, God had sent a shaft of hope–a hand outstretched to me in the form of my now-husband–and the aftershock of what I had almost done gave me the courage to reach out and grab it. One of the best things about my now-husband was that, at the time, he wouldn’t take no for an answer. In his mind, getting out and getting help was not an option. He insisted I see his pastor for counseling and insisted I talk to some respected adults and insisted I start listening to services from the spirit-filled church he was following online.
His insistence was–and usually still is, during my moments of personal crisis–my saving grace. Fast forward four years, and I’m now happily married, free from depression, and living in Kansas City, where my husband and I attend that same spirit-filled church three days a week. I’m even attending Bible school full-time with the intent of becoming a pastor/preacher.
That’s where this blog comes in. I needed a place to record my spiritual journey, republish essays, and share all the earth-shattering and perspective-rocking things I learn about God and Kingdom through church and school. And so the question came up: What should I name the blog?
There are still times where I look back on my now-empty crafts business with a touch of sadness. It grieves me somewhat that evil in the form of depression forced me to derail that dream, and sometimes I consider the prospect of crafting again, on the side, just to renew the joy I once had in creating with paper and yarn.
But the business name no longer fits. I no longer want to go back to Grinnell. Even if someone gave me an all-expenses-paid relocation package tomorrow, I wouldn’t go. I will not leave my current church, and there’s nothing in Grinnell that would make me want to give up what I have here. I have more here than I ever had in Grinnell.
And then I realized: I’ve found it. I’ve found “Grinnell.”
Here, in the center of the country, I’ve found everything I was searching for. I have a church. I have family, both by blood and by spirit, within spitting distance. I have friends, I have groups, I have activities, so many that I have to actively turn down engagements. I have community. I have life, peace, security, identity.
I’ve found home.
And so, perhaps this is the perfect blog name after all. It may not be in Grinnell, and it may not look like what I thought it would a decade ago, but I truly have found the road to Grinnell. I’ve discovered what it means to come home, and through this blog I want to share that reality with others.
And as I realize that the cry of my homeless teenaged heart has been fulfilled, I begin to believe that my other broken dreams–my crafts business, my writing–can also be redeemed.
After all, in the Kingdom of God, it’s not just the holy cities that will be renewed. It’s all of creation, including the waste places, the dry ground, the dark areas corrupted by evil. The Sodom’s. The Gomorrah’s. The Babylon’s and Jericho’s and Cana’s.
And even Egypt.
“The LORD restored [Job’s] fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” –Job 42:10 NIV
“I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.” –Isaiah 41:18 NIV