Blog 365 · Life Chronicles

The Beauty of Putting Down Your Roots

I grew up in a family where moving was sort of the norm. By the time I was 15, I had moved seven times.

That’s really nothing in comparison to my mom, who, before moving here had never lived in a house longer than six years.

And I’m sure that there are plenty of military families, missionary families, and others who have moved much more than I have. However, I am still quite familiar with that feeling of packing the boxes, piling up the moving van, moving into a new house or apartment, and waking up greatly disoriented the next day. Then, after searching through boxes to find some cereal to eat for breakfast, you had to unpack all those boxes … learn the streets of a new city … find a new church – and hope that you would make some friends.

While all that moving was exhausting and overwhelming, there was this sense of adventure and discovering new places that was woven into my DNA, inherited from many generations before me. It whispered that if I wanted to do something daring and brave, it meant moving somewhere else and blazing a new trail in my life.

I sometimes considered the idea that trusting God with the next chapter of my life meant that I had to pick up my things, go to a “new land” like Abraham, and see how God would work through me in a new city in a new venture.

That is certainly a possibility. It has definitely happened in my life and in my family members’ lives. It will probably happen again in my life at some point.

But what if – what if doing something daring and brave also meant staying? What if trusting God didn’t mean just when you went to a place where you didn’t know anybody, but also when you planted yourself in a hometown and stuck with investing in people’s lives whom you did know well?

What if you stopped classifying “adventure” as going somewhere new and started classifying it as loving people wherever you were at – including a place where you lived for fifteen or twenty years?

Sometimes longevity and faithfulness in the same community, church, or job isn’t an indicator that you’re “settling” or that you have a boring life. Sometimes it’s an indicator of a long-term work of God that He can only build up if you stay.

I’ve lived here in this city now for fourteen years. I’ve been involved in this CYT for thirteen and a half years. I’ve been at this church for almost eight years. And last night when I went to a friend’s house for a game night, a smile spread across my face as I realized that I’d been coming there for twelve years – and I feel just as at home there as I do at my own parents’ house.

And there’s such a satisfying feeling to it.

I’m not saying I’m never leaving or never moving. If God wants to use me in another city – or even another country – then I will gladly say yes and follow the call.

But for the moment, there is such sweetness in knowing that I’ve put down my roots here. This place will always be home to me no matter how far I roam or how many other places I live. Every time I fly back from being away, a sense of peace and joy fills me in knowing that I’m home.

And if I were to stay here for ten, twenty more years – or even the rest of my life – I think it would be a beautiful thing. I would love being able to see my former students graduate from high school or college – see them come back to visit me with their own kids – see the fruit of ministry in this church extend over generations – grow old with family and friends in a place that holds so many memories for us.

There is great joy in weaving a history in one place over many years. There is a certain artistry in building up such a community where everyone knows you so well that if you were to die, you would have many people attend your funeral and celebrate your life which you invested into theirs.

Yes, I love to travel. Yes, I still love having those adventures where I discover new foods, new languages, and new scenery – and have the pictures from them to adorn my walls with.

But those aren’t the only adventures. There are adventures sealed in my memory that come back with every season right here in this city – times I went to Greenbluff in the fall with different family members or friends … or epic New Year’s Eve parties with dozens of CYT kids … or football games at the stadium in high school … or movie nights at favorite people’s houses … or hundreds of different times at Riverfront Park or on the South Hill … and thousands of memories at the Bing.

These are adventures that are welded far deeper into my soul because they speak of a life lived with those I love the best. They tell of a life filled with laughter, tears, prayers, joy, and deep conversations. Those can happen anywhere – here or a new city – but either way, I still have to trust God with every detail of my life, knowing that I don’t own any of my experiences. They are all a gift from my Creator – and one of the most beautiful facets of said gifts is being allowed to stay long enough in one place that your roots go deep. That I can look around and say – these are my people. They know my soul well, they care for me and I care for them. This is life well-lived – because it intentionally makes the most of where it’s at.

Everyone’s journey is different. Yours may be about to embark to a new place because that’s where God needs to take you to do great things for Him. That’s perfectly acceptable.

But if your journey involves staying where you’re at for a while, don’t let it make you restless and weary. Remember that staying is also a gift – and sometimes it can make something even more beautiful out of your life than you ever imagined. We just have to be faithful to look around and recognize the work Christ is doing right here with every minute that we’re called to stay.

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