I was born and raised in the same small town my entire life.
To give you an idea of just how small it really is, our population is around 3,800 and I have 57 kids in my graduating class. What we consider "fun" on Friday and Saturday nights is driving around listening to the radio and going to Applebee's. Talk about living the dream! Don't get me wrong - small down life isn't terrible, but I don't want to spend 70+ years of my life living in the same place. I feel blessed to have been raised in a safe, cozy, Christian community where everyone is like family, and my roots will forever be planted here. Still, God has wired me a with a sense of adventure and I think in my case that means I will end up moving away after high school and follow Jesus wherever he takes me.
Because my future plans are beginning to come into focus, it's difficult for me to sit still and realize I still have two years left here. Patience is something I struggle with on a daily basis anyways, and I have a feeling that's something God is in the process of modifying. Again, I know high school 'goes by way too fast' (or so I've heard), and I'm trying my best to savor it, but it's tough when I feel like there's not much left for me here other than my family and friends. Until that day comes when I pack up my bags and turn the page in the next chapter of my life, I am determined to look on the bright side and grow in my hobbies, friendships, and faith.
I do not believe that circumstances in our lives are merely coincidences strung together, but rather events that are all a part of God's plan for us. As Jesus followers, we aren't guaranteed an easy or a painless life. For some people following Jesus means their lives may even become more challenging, but Job 1:21 says "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, but blessed be the name of the Lord." This means there's probably going to be some rainy days, months, weeks, or even years throughout your lifetime. Guilt, debt, anger, divorce, anxiety and death can all get the best of us at times. Despite the trials we will face, it's during those rainy seasons where we have the opportunity to grow the most. In life, it's not always the problem itself that defines us but how we handle the problem. My advice? Give whatever it is that's raining on your parade over to God and let him take care of it. (After all, I think he knows a little better than you and I do.)
It can be equally as hard to grow in the sunlight. Right now, I'm in a particular stage where the clouds have rolled away and I'm learning to be content; embracing my time in the sun with the Son. Judah Smith speaks on this topic in his sermon 'Instagram Isn't Real' and how attractive a content person really is. I want to be so in awe of Jesus' love and grace that I don't even have time to glance at my neighbor and envy what they have or who they are.
But here's where the problem lies: I am an achiever. I don't mean to sound like I'm boasting about my strengths or talents, but instead to express the vicious cycle I'm stuck in: setting goals, reaching them, and never being satisfied. There is always something else to work for and look forward to. Let me tell you, this comes in handy when I'm doing my homework or have deadlines of some kind, but for the most part it's pretty draining. For years I couldn't wait to be a high school cheerleader. Now I'm here and already thinking about moving away and going to college. When will it ever be enough, Paige?! When will you ever slow down and be satisfied? There are so many people and places and opportunities God has positioned in my life for a reason. I don't want to wake up one day and realize I never appreciated them because I was too busy dreaming about the future. Because someday the present will be the past, and the future will be the present, and I won't know what difference I've really made throughout the last 50 years of my life. Matthew 6:34 reminds us to 'not worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will bring its own worries.'
I never want to be too comfortable where I am and always want to stay on my toes, waiting for God to use me - even if it's in Small Town, USA. Whether this means you are a busy mom tired of the same routine, a broke college student searching for your calling, or simply a person who is feeling like they're not living to their full potential, trust me - our God has you exactly where He wants you and has not forgotten about you (just look at Jeremiah 29:11) Continue to pursue Jesus, love people, and you'll be amazed at how your life begins to bloom.
As for me right now, I guess that means I will do my best to thank God in the sun and in the rain, soak up His word, and enjoy the little time I have left in this town until He's ready to transplant me somewhere else. I will do my best to grow where I am planted - and where I am is a pretty good place to be.
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!" -2 Peter 3:18
His Biblical Beauty,