Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Contentment



There have been things to hate about every place I’ve ever lived. Sometimes I succumbed to the temptation to hate those places. I really hated Texas for a lot of years. I know that extenuating circumstances influenced my feelings, but honestly, those circumstances never really had anything to do with Texas or most Texas people. I just made up my mind that since I wasn’t happy (for good reason) about a lousy situation, I’d take it out by hating the state where I had to live in said situation. Later, I changed my attitude, but I think an unbearable situation would have been a little easier if I’d chosen to enjoy my surroundings. (For the record, I love Texas now, and it tops my list of places I’d like to live.)


Loving where you live really is a choice.




Billy and I joke that we somehow always end up living in places no one else wants to live.


When we married we lived in a tiny town in the Mississippi Delta. Most people I knew who had moved their from other places never grew to like it, although most locals were fiercely loyal to their community. It was so remote that the farming segment of the population were a very tight-knit community, old-fashioned in many ways. Their July 4th celebration could have happened 100 years ago. It was like stepping back in time.


On the other hand, our neighborhood had deteriorated into a crack town. We could throw a stone from our front porch to three street corners where cocaine was sold in broad daylight. Drunks and drug addicts walked by our house at all times of the day and night, and we once had a gang fight in the street in front of our house which left someone laying in the street. When I called 911, no one responded. (That happened more than once.) The sheriff couldn’t even carry a gun—he was a convicted felon who was elected to his second term from prison. The local judge was named one of America’s six worst judges by Reader’s Digest.


We were an hour from the nearest Wal-Mart, which was located in a city that had the highest murder rate per capita in the nation that year. The church had actually had ministers turn them down because it was too far from Wal-Mart. (That blows my mind to this day.) I had to drive an hour and a half to the hospital where I had my first baby, like all the other women in the community.


The previous “pastor” had murdered his wife in the church parsonage (where we lived) and passed it off as suicide. He came to trial while we lived their and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.


But in spite of all the drawbacks, we loved where we lived! We cried a lot of tears when we had to leave. Some of our sweetest memories are of that place. When we got married we knew that we wouldn’t be there forever, and we determined to enjoy our time there. That was the sweetest little church I’ve ever seen. Someone described it as an oasis, and that’s exactly what it was. The people were beyond wonderful. They loved us in spite of our many faults, and welcomed us into their families since our own families were so far away. We still miss our Mississippi family! We enjoyed the farming culture and endless fields (which most outsiders hated). The pace of life (for us) was slow and idyllic. “Ministry” happened on the field, or perhaps I should say in the fields. Billy had great hunting opportunities in some of the nation’s best national forest. We got to live in an amazing, unique culture.


It was all about attitude. Although there were many drawbacks, we chose to see the good. And there was plenty of good. I’m glad that we chose to have that mindset, because we’ve been able to take it everywhere we’ve gone. We’ve loved each place that we’ve lived, even though we do usually end up in places no one else wants to go, places that are considered less than desirable. Our last location wasn’t as undesirable, but we had plenty of other challenges that made it a tough assignment. Our new spot is another one that most people don’t want to come, and most who do don’t want to stay. It’s not always easy to choose to see the good, but each time we have, God has honored it. (I don’t know how else to explain it.) Instead of focusing on all the reasons to hate where we live, He’s enabled us to enjoy the wonderful benefits and unique culture of each location. We’re strangers, missionaries, sojourners. And that makes us international tourists of sorts, able to enjoy God’s best about any place He sends us.


For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.”

Hebrews 13:14 (NKJV)

5 comments:

Barbara said...

Thanks for visiting me. Yes your name is down. The story of the places you have lived - you couldn't make it up. Life can be stranger than fiction.

miraine - the cold strips containing menthol that one sticks on to forhead or back of neck I have found helpful along with my usual paracetamol and codeine.

Charity Grace said...

Well you are the second person to recommend menthol, so I will definitely have to try that next time. Thanks for the comment!

Charity Grace said...

Oh, and you are so right, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. Who needs fiction, huh? :)

dh said...

I'd hate living in Texas too.

Charity Grace said...

Come on, Billy, it wouldn't be that bad. I know you're in the minority anyway. After all, Walker lives in Texas. When you live in Texas, the eyes of the ranger are upon you, ya know...