We recently went to Chick fil A for dinner. When we walked in, a couple I didn’t know walked up to my husband, calling him Pastor Lee. They asked about how I was feeling, if I had passed my kidney stone, and how our adoption process was going. Honestly, I was still waiting for, “Hi, my name is ____,” but they just skipped that part. (Lee told me later they are members of a sister church in the area and had met Lee when he preached over there months ago. They knew I had been sick because their associate pastor’s wife had mentioned it to them as a prayer request.)
When we sat down to eat, one of our church members came in and said hi. After we ate, the boys played in the play area with the son of the woman who runs our favorite date night cupcake place. On our way out, I noticed the man who works at our library there with his family.
As I pulled out of the parking lot I thought, “Wow, it feels like home here.”
I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone. We didn’t leave the house without running into someone we knew (or were related to). But after moving around a lot since graduating from high school, I was getting used to being anonymous, to not really feeling at home.
But this month we’re celebrating being at this church and in this area for five years. I did a little research about pastors in our denomination and one study said the average tenure at one church for pastors our age is four years, so five years (with no plans to move anytime soon) is reason to celebrate!
We’re just now getting to really know our church members. We’re finding ways to serve the community (like at the crisis pregnancy center and through our local autism support group). I can get lots of places without asking directions and can find everything on my list at the grocery store. I get hot when it’s 85 degrees and think, “It’s a pretty day!” when it’s 42. I know exactly where my son’s favorite super hero books are at our library, which park has the most shade tress, and the name of the girl who hands us our pizza each Sunday at our favorite place. And, when I go to Chick fil A, I always see someone I know.
Do you live far away from “home”? Here’s my advice:
- Know that God called you to this place. No matter what brought you there (husband’s job, family issues, school opportunities), it was God who called you there. Trust that He has a purpose for you while you live where you live.
- Find a church home and get in a small group. God calls us to meet together, be obedient to that call. I know it’s easy to download a podcast or livestream a church service, but church is more than listening. It’s being, and doing, and growing, and learning, and confessing, and worshiping, and laughing, and serving, and praying together.
- Invest in others, no matter how long or short you plan to be there. It’s not always easy to make friends or love your neighbors, but it’s worth it. Open yourself up. Take a risk. Say yes.
- Remember it gets easier. You’ll use the GPS less and remember more names. Give it time and be patient.
I used to struggle when asked, “Where are you from?” I just wasn’t ready to call where we lived “home” quite yet. But staying where God has put us has its rewards. And at the top of that list is feeling at home exactly where I am.
Acts 17: 26, “… [God] has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings …”