I grew up in Nebraska, went to school in Arkansas, and moved immediately after college to Texas. I birthed all of my kids in Texas and created a lovely suburban life in Texas.
Then, in an act that MANY thought was crazy, we moved our family to the northeast to experiment with life a bit. After several
months years of massive culture shock, I found a rhythm. I fell in love with a city. With her people. With a region. With an honest, raw life.
* We lived on an unusual street populated with people passionate about making their neighborhood better, committed to each other, and endlessly creative with ways to do both.
* We found a crazy-good church filled with open armed, lovely people who spent their energy attempting to draw my kids to deeper things, and attempting to radically transform our city with acts of service and love.
* My husband started a business that was flooded with accolades and honor, with nothing but fulfillment and financial potential. It was the completion of a long-held dream and was a source of continual expression of his relational and professional gifts.
* We benefitted from the culture and brilliance of a town that was the home of Yale University. We regularly attended jazz festivals in the town green, participated in arts and idea festivals in various venues around town, went to concerts and plays, got our kids golf lessons at the Yale golf course and found a Yale graduate as a Spanish tutor for our boys.
* And don’t get me started reminiscing about the breathtaking seasons, orchards, and ocean.
WE changed – were transformed by this place. We were reintroduced to a reality from which we had insulated ourselves. We were challenged by the tough questions of faith. We were encouraged to rethink community, social mission, politics, social transformation, hospitality, traditions, among many, many others. We aggressively worked to break down the “us” versus “them” mentality. We fought fear, financial lack, and culture.
And then God asked us to leave it all. Just when this foreign land became familiar and I became fluent in the language of the region, when the work that we’d invested was beginning to pay off and life wasn’t such a struggle, we were uprooting.
When the initial job offer was received and I quieted myself enough to ask God what His vision was for us, the direction He gave me was, “If this earth is your home, of course you’d stay and reap the benefit of your years of toiling; however, if heaven is your home, then I’m asking you to take what you’ve learned and build up another work of mine in Dallas.”
I fully believe that my investment on this earth is to build God’s kingdom, meaning that my efforts are directed towards eternal things. To me, it is pretty clear delineation – this earth is not my home. There were other reasons that formed a case as to why we felt that we should move, but this directive was always in my mind.
So we moved. We hit the ground running and I felt really hopeful about what might be here for me and my family.
But the other day as I was reflecting on our short time here, the Lord stopped me and exposed a part of my heart to me that I had effectively covered. I’d moved – but if I was really honest, I hadn’t allowed room in my heart for ALL that Dallas is. On the surface, I was helping my kids land well, showing them the joys of living in a large metroplex, exploring our new environment and investing in our church community. But on the inside, I realized that I was looking over my shoulder quite a bit. I was resenting the warm temperatures in winter and was envying my northern friends every time that it snowed. I was allowing myself to be cynical when I shopped for produce, recognizing that it wasn’t as fresh as if I had picked it myself. I was realizing (and didn’t like the fact) that it is way too easy to be isolated in this spread out city.
I know those are silly and/or petty issues, but my lack of wholehearted investment left room for resentment to creep in.
HOWEVER, I recognize that I’ll miss out on SO MUCH that God has for me and my family if I don’t fall in love again with this city. I will never really connect if I am looking over my shoulder. I’ll not be effective in our new mission if I don’t intentionally put myself fully in. If I’m looking back to what was, I’ll put out a vibe that I’m not really available. A part of me will be withheld from truly investing, and that missing part will be noticed. Relationships will stay shallow, and I’ll be a fraction of the person I am intended to be.
All of the above is not to say that Dallas hasn’t warmly welcomed us, or that I haven’t connected with people here. I really have, and I see the potential for such deeper relationships. I know that God is in complete control of my growth, and that this new place has as much to add to my journey as the former place did. In fact, I believe that the parts of my heart that became awakened to His love for His people and His earth will be some of the gifts that I have to give to this new place. I just recognize that for all of this to happen, to a great extent, it is up to whether or not I fully embrace this city.
This is a lovely city filled with lovely people. I am eager to see what God has in store for me as I learn to put myself out there even more!