I want to start this post with some story-telling about my lovely hometown of Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico. A wonderful tourist attraction where many famous people have resided to while working on a project in the area or have found a place to call home. You look left and see nature at it’s finest. There are beautiful green trees here and there surrounded by desert. You turn right and see the architecture of the adobe houses that shows you what the town is known for. There is a big Native American influence and it is highly noted through the beautiful turquoise jewelry that women are not afraid to show-off on their wrists and necks. And how could I forget about the museums that display wonderful works of art that you won’t see outside of the state? People come here from afar to ski or see the art created here. Reading how I describe this Santa Fe will make you think that I admire my hometown, but this beautiful creation of God has only bloomed in my eyes in the past few years. I lived there for 18+ years and I honestly hated that place.
From a young age, I joined my friends and complained about how lame Santa Fe felt for us. The only places of entertainment (for me, anyways) were the arcade and the bowling alley and they both closed when I was in Middle School. The buildings and lots were vacant for a long time. At the time, I wasn’t known for discovering places of entertainment and fun. It was difficult to find a place to go and hang out with friends. I would usually raid a friend’s house, play video games, watch movies, or go to the local parks. I guess I was hard to please. As soon as the opportunity arose, I left it and its people.As soon as I graduated high school, I left Santa Fe. This became my first opportunity to move. My destination? The furthest place I can be while staying in state lines. I wasn’t daring to go further. Also, there was cheaper in-state tuition, so I fled to Las Cruces, New Mexico to become an Aggie at New Mexico State University. Now, let’s fast-forward to the end of my first semester of college. I found out that my grades plummeted, resulting in the loss of a good scholarship (more of why that happened in a later post). My parents were not happy to hear that and I had to go back to Santa Fe. Back to the place I wanted to escape. I wasn’t happy, either.This time around, I realized that my only options were to look at my circumstances and realize that I had to do something with what I had. I had to take control of how I would react to what was in front of me. I didn’t realize it then, but looking back, I knew God was testing me through that situation. I had unnecessary bitterness and hate towards the town and its people.
Summer comes and summer will go. Time flies sometimes and you will have to plan for any seasonal changes. What are you thinking about the changes that will come in your life? Some of the younger generations just finished another year of school. There are many that just graduated high school or college. These people are excited for the summer break to sleep in and not do anything for many weeks. For some of you, this change in life means that you may be looking ahead to relocate for your job or will relocate to find a job. It could be changing to a new home or church. Maybe, there will be a new addition to the family. You have an idea as to what that change in your life could be. Whether it is coming up in a week or in a year, I know that it is hard not to think about it. Especially, when you are getting closer to the day, you want to focus on what you will do thereafter in that new season.
And for some of us, those changes in this season may seem terrifying. You don’t know what you will do afterward. Some of us are afraid of what may come through this change. You might lose friends, family, a job, or simply something to cling onto when times get hard. When I initially found out that I couldn’t stay at New Mexico State University, I was scared. I was also angry at myself for letting my grades drop. I could have tried harder in school and stayed. I didn’t want to go back to that boring old town. I didn’t want to leave the great friends that I made during my first semester in college.
“So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?”
– Ecclesiastes 3:22
As I was preparing for this post, I read Ecclesiastes 3. God was showing me that death will happen. Life will happen without you wanting it to go a certain way. In life, you need to be flexible when plans don’t go the way you expect them to. The beginning of the chapter reminds us that there are many moments for various emotions to be expressed, but towards the end, you are told that we need to enjoy our work. We have one life and we will go out like any other animal. Luckily, we have something to look forward to afterward. I wish that I would have known and read this chapter back then when I really needed it. Learning to love Santa Fe was not accomplished overnight or in the span of a month. It’s a slow progress. You will not wake up one day and automatically see everything with a new set of lenses. It takes time. Patience is a true virtue, especially when change comes.
The grass is always greener on the other side.
Have you thought about the saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side”? I heard a speaker say this once, “The grass is always greener on the other side because your field is not being tended to.” You need to maintain your yard and water it as your neighbor watered his grass. Think about it, if you jump over the fence into that green and luscious field, it will soon go dry and bare, because you don’t tend to it. The “other side”, whatever place or opportunity that may be, will always be greener to you and you will only want to go somewhere else. I think God places us in situations because he wants to test us. He wants us to learn and understand how green our side can really be.
When you think of the future, you think of possibilities and opportunities. What door will open when a new season comes. When thinking of these future changes, you need to remember where you are now and learn to make the best of current situations. I understand that places in the future have value to you, but you can’t forget where you are now and why God has you there. Seek opportunities to serve, to learn, or to teach. When I returned to Santa Fe, I sought an opportunity to help a new church with their worship band. I later learned the production side of another church, which was really helpful for me. I learned to love being behind the scenes and out of the spotlight. You can always offer to teach and build the next generation of helpers, as well. Especially, if you know you are not going to be where you are soon, teach someone your knowledge and skills to replace you. What can you offer in these moments? Ask God what He wants you to do there and now. God has an interesting plan that we will not understand (not always, anyway).
No Little People, No Little Places.
There is a book, “No Little People” by Francis Schaeffer, that many people reference to when they speak of being a missionary to a third world country. It brings up the idea that somehow someone says that they feel called or have the heart to evangelize to a third world people group, yet they are not able to (or don’t want to) work in their hometown or their campus and do ministry there. I recently bought this book and it has been on my reading list, so I can’t give it enough praise as it deserves, yet, but this thought really got me thinking about how I should appreciate where I am at now. We need to realize that every place is a big deal in God’s eyes. There is not any place or any people group insignificant or non-deserving of what you and God can offer. God placed me in Santa Fe at that time in my life and I should have seen how beautiful it was and the opportunities there at that time. I did realize it, but it took a while. If we love a place so much it will become great like other big cities. The same speaker that spoke about this grass being greener, mentioned a quote that really struck me, as well, “Men don’t love Rome because she was great. She was great because men loved her.” The place that you are at and tired of is not great because you might have not given the effort. Whether it is a town, job, opportunity, hobby, etc., you need to make your “Rome” beautiful. You need to make your “Rome” significant and give it the worth that it deserves.
In the end…
In the end, there is always one place you will have to end. One place that will never change no matter where you are. That place is God’s presence. I recommend that you use it to your advantage, too. Do you love God enough to be content are? To be grateful, hopeful, and ultimately thankful where God has placed you? Ask the Lord to help you seek joy and beauty in your location and show you that the grass is not really greener on the other side. You may have to ask God why He has placed you where you are at now and why He has you going to the new location. Learn that you don’t need to be in the new place to be at your full potential. I don’t need a particular job, person or item to make the best of my opportunities. I won’t depend on NMSU, the campus ministry that I attend, or the church I go to for worth and value. Right now, where I am at is the best chance I have to have a good relationship with God and I know that you can and should relate. Just remember, the grass is not always greener on the other side.