So often I hear locals within my city complaining or throwing out sarcastic jabs about the city I call home. The people who were born and raised here cannot wait to leave town after high school, only to return years later in many cases. People who arrived due to work relocation or an avenue other than a desire to come usually aren’t too thrilled to live here. I on the other hand love, love, love the city and people who call this place home.
When I say that I love my city, it is not due to a naive view. It isn’t a blind love. I very clearly see the flaws within our city government, the mindset and lifestyle of so many locals, the crime, the high teen pregnancy rate, the constant water contamination, and the list goes on. Yet, despite it all, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Why? Well, because I’m called here.
You see, when you know that you know that God has called you somewhere, you aren’t restless and discontent. You are secure and full of belonging.
I didn’t get to this mindset over night, believe me, it was a process. For years I talked of moving somewhere “better”. Yet over the years as I’ve traveled and tasted what other states and countries have to offer, I’ve realized that the grass isn’t always greener somewhere else. You can’t buy contentment, true community and belonging. No matter how pretty, shiny, and happening the other place seems.
So, if you’re struggling with the current place you live, here are some steps towards your solution:
Ask God a few questions. “Why am I here?” and “What do you want to teach me in this place?” Once you have resolved to the fact that the Lord has called you to a place, ask Him to give you a love for the people! By falling in love with the people, you open yourself up for making the most impact.
Complaining only reveals a deeper issue of discontentment within ourselves. The Greek word “complainer” literally means “one who is discontented with his lot in life.” By complaining, we improve nothing. If you find yourself complaining often, try digging a little deeper to find the root cause for the discontentment. We know as Christians that we can speak things into existence with our words. (Prov. 18:21) It’s important to put a positive spin on what comes out of your mouth. Even if it doesn’t line up with our thoughts or the literal view we may be taking in. In my case, it’s often cloudy drinking water. But hey, they’ll get it right one day, right?
Help fix broken. Do you see various issues within your city? Find a way to get involved and help! Be the change agent. Be part of the solution and not the problem. If we get passionate enough to see change, we might just consider doing something about it. And by this, I am not referring to Facebook rants or videos stating our opinions or complaints. By this, I do mean voting, volunteering, speaking positive, funding the programs you believe in or by actually helping and loving people right where they are. The quickest way to resolve being discontent is by getting the focus off of yourself. You won’t however, be extremely motivated to give of yourself or help others if you don’t first have a love for the people.
Whatever concerns you the most should be the place where you start.
Build community. I believe the people we build relationships with and do life with are what make a place home. If you aren’t involved in a church, volunteering, a job, moms group, whatever it may be, you will lack a sense of belonging. Having community is vital.
Take my husband for example. Before we met he was living in another state and moved to the city I was living in to take a job. When he first arrived he did not like the city. He found two things missing–community and great coffee. So, he decided to open a coffee shop. Over the years, there are now three coffee shops, we met and married and our cup now runs over with community. He now talks about how much he loves our city and the people in it. Now not everyone can just go open a coffee shop, but to some extent everyone can create the community they long for. It all starts with putting yourself out there.
Some cities are darker and harder than others. Yet, all cities have some level of brokenness whether it is hidden or in the light. The most important thing we can do as Christians is to remember our true purpose here on earth. Life isn’t always comfortable like a fluffy down comforter. It’s often times more like a prickly wool blanket. We are supposed to be the light in the darkness.
If we all went where the light is bright and life is easy and pretty, then we leave the dark places with no amount of contrast. Leaving only a grey area with no difference being made.
Leaving a place lacking in hope, progress, change and most importantly love.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14
Let us consider being the light in the dark places.