A few weeks ago, I was driving home from McTeacher Night, and realized – I’ve been driving these same streets for the past 15 years.
For the first 15 years of my life, I lived in four different cities/towns and seven different houses/apartments. But now, I can say that I’ve lived half of my life in the same town – but not only that, but also roughly the same neighborhood. I went to high school, community college, and university all close to the north side. The two churches I’ve attended have been 5-10 minutes away. I’ve shopped at the same stores, ate at the same restaurants, and driven the same tree-lined streets for over a decade.
And now, I teach at a school and live in a house that are also very close to the neighborhood in which I grew up.
And guess what? I love it.
When a person is graduating high school and college, they think the most important thing is to leave. Adventure and travel beckon, and you’re itching to go “out there,” following God’s big plan for your life.
Sometimes His big plan is going – and I have gone.
And sometimes it’s staying.
To be quite honest, I do not live in an affluent neighborhood. I don’t teach in an affluent school. Which is more than fine by me. I make enough money and have more than I need, and I kind of prefer a modest lifestyle that isn’t bursting at the seams with gadgets galore.
And these are my people – my kids that I teach, families that I love and serve. They aren’t super wealthy, but most of them do just fine – and it is a joy to share this kind of life with them.
The kind of life where kids are out playing at the park after school, and shooting hoops outside someone’s house. The kind of life where the school carnival is the event of the weekend for the neighborhood. The kind of life where trick or treaters still come knocking at your door – and maybe their costumes aren’t Pinterest-perfect, but they speak of a child’s imagination. The kind of life where the house isn’t the most modern, but its fireplace, built-in bookshelves, and red front door beckon you to dream in an old-fashioned way.
The kind of life that’s a little like how I grew up – and that’s exactly what brings so much comfort to my soul.
And what’s even more comforting is knowing that I have established a community of people whom I love and who love me. It takes many years to build up that community – and I am lucky enough to have been given three such communities – church, CYT, and school. These people know my soul and what makes my heart beat with passion. They encourage me, support me, and challenge me to become more and do more than I could have ever dreamed on my own. I’ve spent fifteen years growing and allowing those around me to pour into my life so that I could live a life that matters and makes a difference.
And here I am, world – little, insignificant me, who is completely fine with anonymity and quiet faithfulness in an ordinary neighborhood among ordinary people.
It’s not a glitzy big city. It’s not a tiny farm town. It’s a “just-right” sized town, and maybe not everybody’s first choice. But I’ve been to the big cities. I’ve been to the places where no one knows your name, and nobody really cares where you’re going and what you’re doing. Those places have their own kinds of communities, and that is perfectly lovely for them. I love going and visiting them and experiencing a bit of adventure in new places.
But those are not the places that call my name to come home and rest – not the places that know me so well – not the places where a girl can feel like she’s herself. It’s right here in the best part of the US – the Pacific Northwest – that I feel my heart settling down.
I live in a beautiful community with vibrant colors, lovely character, and warmth filling the windows. I live among people who care, who work hard, and who give of themselves. This is a place called home, and I am so content here.