Beautiful, happy tulips on display at Biltmore. Lord, why couldn’t I be planted at Biltmore?
I currently reside in a small town in Georgia. And by small, I mean the population is less than 15,000. My husband and I have lived here for almost 13 years. It’s the longest I have ever lived in one place in my entire life. But I haven’t always loved it.
You see, we moved here to help a friend start a church – in another city. We chose this small town, simply because of its proximity to work (Athens) and where we would be doing ministry (Buford), and we chose the town smack dab in between. I have since then viewed our small town as kind of a purgatory or waiting room. A holding cell. Not really where we want to be, but maybe one step closer to our final destination, wherever that may be.
I was a military kid. I have traveled my whole life, attending 5 elementary schools and 3 high schools. A first generation American, I was born just outside of Detroit, the daughter of a Maltese immigrant. I’ve lived in Germany. I traveled to Paris at age 8, visiting the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre before I could even fully appreciate either landmark. It seemed that just when we started to settle in to a place, it was time to pack up and move again. Life in my family, at the very least, was never boring.
I am not used to sitting still for very long. I am most uncomfortable in places where culture feels a little too homogeneous. Some time ago, I began noticing that about every three years I start to get an “itch.” An itch to pack up and move, or at the very least travel out of the state. Sometimes this itch is expressed by the sudden compulsion to cut off all my hair, or color it some strange new hue. I start feeling suffocated, and begin craving adventure, novelty, and a break from the mundanity of the everyday routine. Ironically, I feel most at home in a car, with my belongings in a suitcase, traveling and spending the night in strange, new places. I guess I have a little bit of a vagabond soul. My kids always acknowledge that “traveling mom” is so much happier than “stay-at-home mom.” Yikes.
And if I am not traveling, I crave projects. A new business, a new ministry opportunity, a new friendship. I never realized this about myself until just recently, coincidentally when new opportunities and relationships began drying up!
So right now, instead of looking for the next big thing, I am learning to love and appreciate where I am. Learning to bloom where I am planted, so to speak. Do you remember that cheesy inspirational quote? Even though it’s cheesy I have always liked it. And I actually struggle with this concept. Should I stay or should I go? Accept the things I cannot change, or change the things I can? Submit or rebel?
For almost the entire time we have lived here, I have felt this restlessness, of waiting for the next big thing to come around the corner. Instead of embracing where I am at, accepting what I currently have, and appreciating each and every detail. Taking the time to appreciate and practice true gratitude, realizing that you have everything you need right here right now, is an art and a discipline.
So I am intentionally revisiting this concept and trying to bloom where I am planted. I am learning to appreciate the Small Town USA that we live in. Learning to love the wonderful people that live here, and appreciate the relationships we have built here, instead of wishing we were somewhere else. Learning to appreciate the tight-knit feeling of community wherever we go. Always seeing a friendly face, reminding you that no matter what, you are never alone. Even if some times, in this giant scary world, it feels like you are. Because if I am constantly yearning for that next big thing, am I not forfeiting the very wonderful things I have right now? Instead of looking at each and every situation as a potential outcome or “what can I get from this interaction?” I am asking God to help me truly appreciate each moment, taking success and failure together, breathing, enjoying the seasons of rain and sun, wind and frost, and finding the beauty of each.