Recently the Pew Research Center did a survey and asked people where they would most like to live. They found out that over 50% of the people wished they lived somewhere else.
As I was reading the article, I couldn’t help but to think back to my earlier years in Ann Arbor. I remember how hard it was adjusting to Ann Arbor. It literally took us (more like me) about 3 years to finally see this place as our home.
When a person comes from a big city like Chicago and definitely has the composition of being a city-boy, the transition is even harder. But there were several things that happened which helped me in the transition; and now, I see Ann Arbor as my home.
2) Contentment. The Apostle Paul said, “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Phil 4:11-12). As I am getting older, I can confidently say that contentment is something that has to be learned. It is something that requires a perspective change and a passion to love God regardless of our circumstances. In our generation we are constantly swayed by circumstances. Maybe this is why we have not passed the test in the school of contentment. We also think that “the grass is greener on the other side,” until we get to the other side and then realized that it is the same grass. So often we are trying to move to the “next” big thing, but we fail to realize that some of the issues that we have are within – and we can never run away from ourselves.
3) Community. When a person gets older, they come to the conclusion that life is really about relationships. I have seen so many people move to a new city because their salary will be higher or their perceived lifestyle can be realized. But at the end of the day, they have no community and they are lonely. You can have all the money in the world and the glamorous lifestyle, but you will be empty. I have noticed that the deeper the relationships in community, the easier it is to see the current location as a place that God wants them to place their roots.
4) Church. The thing that has frustrated me so much over the years is the decision-making process of people. When people are in the process of praying and trying to decide if they should stay or go somewhere else, the church is probably on the bottom of their priority. You start to realize what is important to a person just by how they process their decision. People would rather give up a church community, in which they say that they have grown to love, in order to make $5,000-$10,000 more in their salary or they are willing to give up being part of the church’s vision because the probability of getting married is slim. I am NOT saying that everything has to revolve around church! But we do need to examine our hearts and ask God to help us look deeper into our motives. On the opposite end of this spectrum, there are people who stick around but they are so apologetic of saying that the reason for staying is because of the church. Why do you need to be apologetic? Are you afraid of what people will think or say about you? Who cares? As long as we are in the center of God’s will and pleasing to Him, we have no reason to apologize to people for staying. If you feel like you have to apologize, then I think you should pray and develop some God-size courage.
No matter where we move to or situate ourselves, the most important thing is to remember the greater vision of your life. It is hard to believe that out of a little city like Ann Arbor, God has allowed me to experience so much. He has opened the doors to so many nations, places that I could only dream of, and has allowed me to see and experience so many great things.
All this started because I understood my calling and through it, God helped developed contentment in my life and as I continue to build up community and the church, I know that God will continue to elevate me to higher levels.
You can read the USAToday article on this topic here