Additional "New In Town" Articles

 

My Wandering Eyes
Published: 2/12/2011 10:51:02 AM

 

I moved to a new town about six months ago, and I have a confession to make: I don't love the town I moved to. Sometimes I'm not even sure I really like it.

There are things I like about being here--I love our church and the people at our church; I like that I can buy Blue Bell Ice Cream here; I like that there are three really amazing independent book stores in town; I like the neighborhood we live in; and I like our duplex and our neighbors. I also like that I can drive into downtown at 4:30 on a weekday afternoon and not have to sit in traffic.

I've found things here that I like, but for the most part, my overall opinion of this Midwestern city is just so-so. It reminds me of the Central Texas town I grew up in, and I abandoned that town for the infinitely cooler city of Austin as soon as I could choose for myself where to live. I think that part of my problem with this place is that I didn't choose it; someone else chose it for me when they sent my husband here for his internship.

Lately, I've found myself looking forward to the end of this internship year when we can move back to St. Louis. I've even been looking further into the future, to the time when my husband has finished grad school and we move yet again. I've been daydreaming about living in Denver, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, back in Austin, and sometimes Boston or Chicago. And I've been thinking about how the place I live is not any of those places. This town's greatest fault, in my mind, is that it isn't New York City, which is where I wanted to go.

Earlier this week I was catching up on some of the blogs I read regularly, and I found a rather thought-provoking post by author Sara Zarr on the Good Letters blog of Image Journal (you can read it here: http://imagejournal.org/page/blog/the-prosperity-of-the-city) about her own experience of moving from a place she loved to a place she didn't think she could love and how she's learning to see the new place as home and to love it. In this blog post, she said, "A chronically wandering eye, in any context, is a thief. It steals the joy of living in the present. It keeps you from being fully engaged with what's right in front of you."

I felt convicted when I read that, and realized that I have wandering eyes, that my daydreaming about other cities "steals the joy" of living where I do. If I stopped my unfair thinking that this city is not New York City, and if I let myself see this city for what it is rather than for what it is not…I wonder what could happen. I wonder what I could find here, what marks this city could leave on my heart. I wonder if I could love this place.

In Sara Zarr's blog post, she mentioned these verses from Jeremiah, in which God speaks to the Israelites in exile: "Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." (Jeremiah 29:5-7 ESV)

I only have six months left in this place before I move again. I will not be building a house here, and neither will I be having sons or daughters here. But I can pray for this place, and I can pray for my own attitude about this place to be changed. With God's help, I can be fully present here, and God will open my eyes to the beauties and joys that are in this place.

Sherrah Behrens


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