Where the Blacktop Ends: Moving from suburbs to small town

“It’s an adjustment…”

A friend who moved recently, following her husband in ministry, described her calling as “uniquely designed to break me” and that phrase has crossed my mind once or twice as I’ve mulled over this big life change of moving.

Let me start by saying I know without a shadow of a doubt that our family was called here and I willingly followed my pastor husband, because we both want to be in the center of God’s will. But along with moving often comes a culture shift or “shock”, and that’s what this post is about. I love our home, our church family and  everyone we’ve had the pleasure of meeting, but wrapping my mind around the culture of a small town has been challenging for me. (Note: I did grow up in a small town, but it’s been years since I lived there and it turns out that visiting a home town during the holidays where everybody knows your name is far different than relocating to a small town as an adult).

I found a tea, coffee/ wine bar this weekend  that I think will be my saving grace  for introvert time, and my new writing spot. The word “Hide” is in the name and they sell my favorite tea that I can’t find in grocery stores here.  After stumbling upon it with an old co-worker this weekend, I dragged Johnny there so we could enjoy at least one last date before baby #2.

While we drank tea and ate biscotti he thoughtfully asked me to list  three things I love and three things  I don’t love about our new location. It wasn’t hard to list the many conveniences I miss about the suburbs: the friends, the neighbors, the shopping,  and the various community involvements, but as I started to talk about those missing pieces, I realized that a lot of those voids are starting to hold a special place in my heart for  the way they are helping me grow and and helping us become a healthier family.

“It’s a slower pace…”

We slowed down when we moved here, and it was painful at first, because I felt emotions I was used to running away from- to my job, to the mall, or to a friend- but suddenly all those things were gone, and I had to figure out how to process things in a healthier way.I had to embrace the slow and give myself time I never had before to unpack emotions that had been pushed away.

“It’s (too) quiet…”

It’s quieter, there is less stuff happening, and while that makes me sad sometimes, when I just want to get out of the house with my kiddo, it encourages me to seek out genuine community with other people, to practice hospitality and to practice vulnerability. When there is less going on, it turns out, it’s a lot easier to find time to get together with people! Doing life along side of others is such an integral part of ministry and I’m so blessed that God has brought us to a season in our lives where we have that margin to be able to offer dinner without advanced notice and to ask people to just stop by if they’re in the neighborhood. This is new for me, but it’s a new that I love. It’s a piece that’s been missing.

“It’s simple.”

It’s a simple terrain. Fields, farm land, houses and businesses. Nothing that really draws the eyes or the heart. There’s a little  downtown with a few local businesses and eateries and there are some nice parks within walking distance, and you know what that has taught me? Beauty is not just found in the space  we surround ourselves with. Beauty is found in moments we spend with the faces and bodies we share space with. I’m thankful for the simple space because I’m drawn more to look at these faces, I’m less intrigued by the big and pretty sights to see and more intrigued by the people I meet and the stories they have to tell, because everybody has one and they aren’t all the same.

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