Today I want to talk about something different: the struggle with hating the city you live in and the feeling of being stuck.
I’ve secretly been passionate about this subject for years since I’ve known countless people from across the country who’ve struggled with it. The negative thoughts about your town grow and eventually turn into serious issues. I’ve seen it ruin friendships, homes, and marriages. People who hate where they live will pull away from the friends they have, they tend to not be thankful for their home and it shows with how they treat it, and they argue with their spouse on where they live and it becomes a division in their relationship. I’ve lived in towns I haven’t really cared for and can understand the struggle myself. But when those feelings become out of control, many lives are affected. This subject isn’t talked about enough because it may be common to hear others talk negatively about where they live and some might not see the effects it can have on a person’s life.
This past week James and I moved to our new home. This will be our sixth move in almost nine years of marriage. We’ve moved across country a few times living in different states and we even spent a semester overseas, but somehow northeast Ohio has always had our heart. Whenever we moved away we always knew it wouldn’t be forever and eventually we would make our way back and we did, twice.
While moving into our new home I was cleaning and organizing the kitchen with some worship music playing in the background. I was filled with so much gratitude and thankfulness towards God for blessing us with a beautiful home in the city we want to continue raising our children. I sat on my kitchen floor praying and thanking God for blessing me with a family and a home to raise them in. I thanked him for the town He planted us in and for giving us a love for this community. I’m looking forward to meeting more of our neighbors when it’s not so cold out and getting to know our new neighborhood.
Throughout the years when James and I would move, people in our hometown would either say, ‘Wow you are so lucky to be heading south where it’s warm.” or “ You’re finally getting out of here!” When we moved back people would look at us like we were crazy and say, “Why would you leave the sun to come back here?”
The truth of the matter is, no matter where you live there will always be good and bad. Wherever we’ve lived, whether it was up north, down south, or out west, there were always people with a negative outlook on their city. It’s either too cold, too hot, too wet, or too dry. It’s too crowded or there’s nothing to do. There’s either not enough grass or it rains too much. Plus a million other examples. Rarely have we met people who talk about where they live with love.
You are never stuck. Whatever your circumstances are that is making you feel stuck- please know that God is so much greater than all of that. He is above the mortgage you feel you can’t get out of, He is above any family situation holding you back, He is above your career and annual income. The reality is if God wants you somewhere and you are willing to go, He will make a way.
When James and I moved back to Ohio from out west we had no jobs lined up. It was a huge step of faith we were willing to make simply because God was asking us to. We were leaving a comfortable job with great pay and benefits to move back to a city with nothing besides the dreams God placed in our hearts. Because we had no set income we shouldn’t have been able to get a house. But, then God. God provided the more than perfect home in the perfect timing. God always provides and often times it will be in ways that we could never have imagined. We’ve seen God work on our behalf in mighty ways especially when it seemed impossible to move.
What if where you’re currently at is where He wants you to be? No matter where you’re living God can give you not only a love but a passion for your neighbors and city. Why? Because He wants you to. He wants you to connect with the people He’s placed in your life. He wants you to grow and experience new things that will deepen your faith in Him. He wants you to build close relationships with others to tell them about Him.
Having a negative outlook on where you live will greatly impact your life. It can affect the way we live our days without evening realizing it. If you hate your house and want to sell it, it will reflect in the way you treat your home and the people within it. If you hate your town, it will affect how often you go out into your community to serve and bring life into it. If you feel stuck, it will affect the way you operate in your job and the relationships in your life. It can cause you to pull away from the people around you and have shallow relationships with others.
Look for the good. Every city has good parts to it and when you focus on the good, the good becomes brighter and more colorful, and the bad will seem not so bad anymore. There are local businesses run by families in your community who needs your business. There are parks, and shops, and restaurants. If we saw our town through the eyes of a visitor we will see things we’ve never seen before.
Finding a need in your community and serving the people will expand compassion in your heart for your town. Intentionally get to know others by caring about their life and the things they have going on. Whenever I look back on the different places we’ve lived, I don’t remember the weather or landscaping first. I remember the people. The friendships we’ve made and the countless hours laughing with them until our stomachs hurt. The people whose lives are better because we took time out of our busy schedule to help them and meet them where they’re at. The businesses we have invested in and watched with joy as they grew. The people are the heart of your town. My prayer for you today is for God to birth a love and a passion for your city and the people within it. If you are already loving where you live then I pray for God to use and connect you more within your town.