This is where you're thinking, "Here comes the 'I know how to live in plenty and live in want....I've learned contentment wherever I am' speech." Actually, it isn't...or maybe it is, just not in the way you think. This does actually relate to our move to North Dakota, hang with me for a bit...
When we moved from rural Southwestern Kansas to suburban Michigan a very long time ago it was exciting. And while Grand Rapids, Michigan doesn't show up in movies or top 10 up and coming places to live, we had shopping and lighthouses and coastline (of sorts) close by. We were moving up in the world. Our church was edgy and artsy and we were the "cool" people.
Our move to Sacramento, CA was dramatic, to say the least. We were leaving a church of a 1,000+ people for a new plant of 100+. It was hard to leave friends behind. It was hard to leave a salary behind. It was hard to leave an exciting, fully staffed church behind. BUT...it was California. We rolled our eyes with people and talked about moving to the land of fruits and nuts. Funny thing though, even the people who swore up and down they were glad it was us and not them had an interesting undertone. Reality was, we were moving from nine months of winter and snow falls they measured in feet, not inches, to never seeing snow (unless we chose to drive an hour up to Donner summit to play in tons of snow for the afternoon before driving back to the valley where we would swap snow boots for cute shoes and flip flops once again). We would be an hour from the ocean and an iconic American city. School field trips would often involve crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Our local news morning show was famous with one of the anchors regularly interviewing big, big stars just because he could and they liked him. Our son was on a t-ball team with the son of a famous rock drummer who was once married to Mia Tyler (as in Steve Tyler's daughter and Liv Tyler's half sister). Famous basketball players (such as Mike Bibby and Chris Webber) shopped at my local grocery store and stood in line next me relatively often. I don't care who you are or how much you gripe about California, you can't help but be at least a little impressed by such realities. It was stretching, yes, but
it was also cool.
And then we moved to North Dakota... And, well, North Dakota isn't sexy. Corporations don't want to put stores here, even though we have people now. And the stores we do have,well, we will shop there no matter what and they know that, so they're plain and very simple. The interesting thing is that, in reality, our sons have way more viable and affordable options for pursuing music and really positive school clubs and groups. We have so many people to reach and have to come up with new and innovative ways of doing everything since books aren't written for the phenomenon we have to keep up with here. Frankly, what's happening here....the people, the innovation, the opportunities, the needs...is amazing. If it were happening somewhere people are interested in, it would go even more viral than it already has. Thing is, North Dakota simply isn't sexy.
Therein lies the interesting thing I learn about myself. I'm blessed beyond measure. My children are flourishing (once Ian got adjusted to school). We're where we are supposed to be. God is reaching
people and we get to be involved in the process. And yet, it's not cool. When you tell people you live
in North Dakota you are suddenly uninteresting. And I find I've cared a little too much about what people think. I've cared too much about being comfortable. I've cared more about whether a ministry or outreach we do is"cutting edge/missional" and not enough about whether it's what is needed and will meet real needs. I know that missional is supposed to be about actually meeting real community needs and leaving our four walls, but sometimes I think it's become more about looking like we're leaving the walls and meeting real needs. And often it's just a big talk excuse for not doing anything, because what is being done isn't happening the way we'd like. Now I'm meddling...but maybe it isn't quite so harsh when you realize I'm talking to myself.
... No, North Dakota isn't sexy. No one will ask to be my Facebook friend simply because I live in North Dakota and they've always wanted to know someone who lives there. People don't come visit us, and certainly not during winter, which is most of the year, but that's okay. God's working on me. I'm learning yet more about my own insecurities and slowly learning about letting me define my surroundings rather than the other way around. Aside from the growth that thankfully comes with
age, I am still the same person, whether my address reads Kansas, Michigan, California or North Dakota.
"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned to be content with whatever I have." Philippians 4:11 NLT