Through my high school years I would say things like, “I can’t wait to get out of Hendersonville.” (my hometown). Looking back it was a mesh of immature arrogance and avoidance; and ironically, Hendersonville is where I landed after college.
Last week I was in Chicago for work. A company wanted to gather teams, similar to the organization I work for, from across the country. The idea was to discuss how we can better influence leadership development across large cities. As each presenter shared I noticed something. They had extreme city/state pride; each so passionate about the communities they served. Since moving to Texas, I’ve seen this dynamic a lot. I’m pretty sure Texans believe they reside in the best/only state on the planet. And while I tease my friends about how off- balance that dynamic might be, it’s actually kinda endearing.
I’m not sure city or state pride has really ever been a thing for me. The sports teams I follow are because of the men in my life, I recently just purchased my first “Tennessee state flag” item (I’m 40), and I’m fairly certain each location has it’s pluses and minuses. But during this conference I was a little convicted about not having a ton of Austin passion and pride.
One speaker noted that he tells people that don’t like his town, they “can just leave.” After about 48 hours of location rally cries I was like, “maybe I’m way off in what I’m doing here.” Then something hit me. It’s not about being passionate about where you are located, but about bringing your passion to wherever you may be.
When I think about this in relationship to the Bible I am reminded how often God shakes things up whenever we get overly attached to a location or building. Several times God starts his adventures with people by “sending them away” from their “home”, time after time Israel is scattered, Jesus ruffles feathers by taking God’s business outside of the temple, and Paul is traveling all over the place.
It seems God is more concerned with bringing people back to Him than worried they are in certain locations.
Ruth says, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth is saying, I am not location dependent. (I love how we use this verse in marriages. In context, it’s a mother-in-law/daughter-in-law dynamic…please imagine yourself saying this to your in-laws.)
We have a tradition of finding an ornament to represent every trip we take. When we moved, people gifted us with cherished items as reminders and encouragement of the concept of “home”. Before we left Hendersonville I even had an ornament made that is a replica of our house. These objects remind me of where we’ve been, mile-markers along our journey. But how sad it would be if they actually represented hollow memories or shallow experiences. It’s never the location, it’s always what we bring to the space. You can “I will never live any where else,” or “I can’t wait to get out of this town” all you want, but either stance seems empty if you aren’t showing up as your passionate whole self.
I feel fairly certain that Austin will not be our last relocation, but if I’m not careful, I’ll waste time and miss doing what I can do while we are here.
Are you a little too location dependent? What keeps you from bringing your passion exactly where you are?