Many years have passed since my eyes were opened to the possibility that long-held beliefs should indeed be let go. And this has to do with people as well as places.
Growing up as a northern girl, I spent all of my formative years living in the upper Midwest. Our values here are based on hard work and love of family, with an ancestry of a hearty people who loved good food and drink and fellowship.
This simple life, believing that one could better one’s situation by simply working hard to make it happen, is still the backbone of everyone I know here.
There came a time during one endless winter when temperatures stayed in subzero degrees for weeks, that I packed my bags and moved to a warmer clime.
I began to learn more about people living in different places and circumstances than my own experience. Several moves over different states exposed me to the similarities and differences amongst the people in these places.
But none was so life-changing as our move into the Bible belt of the United States.
I’d never even heard of the Bible belt, but soon upon entering the great state of Texas, we were invited to come visit people’s churches, THIS Sunday. Southern hospitality was alive and well, and extended to reserving a pew for us on Sunday morning.
It’s hard for me to admit this, but my sheltered upbringing had led me to have a certain stereotype of southern folks. It was such that I felt I would never fit in. I wasn’t genteel enough. I was a little rough around the edges and I liked myself that way.
|Photo Courtesy Best Light Photography|
God used this time to teach me about Himself, and myself, and my place in this world. Those of you who read my blog regularly know that during this time in Texas, I was “Born Again in the Spirit”. This isn’t necessarily a term that is often used in the north.
What it means to me, is that as an adult, I gave my life over to Christ. I grew to understand that there was so much more to this life than just me. The unconditional Love that I finally understood was mine forever has guided me onto the path that I am walking today.
It all started with the people I was afraid wouldn’t accept me, because I was different. I had a Yankee accent and Slavic thighs (you northern girls will understand what I mean!) and I certainly wasn’t all coiffed and perfect every time I went out the door – not with three young boys in tow!
But I was accepted, and when I found a church of my own, I dove into volunteering there with everything that I could do: Sunday school, VBS, children’s choir – I even put on the Christmas pageant, including writing the text and teaching all the songs.
It was a joyous time, and looking back I can see how God was directing my steps into the work He would lead me to do now. It’s always easier to take a look back and see the path we’ve trod, and see how God gave us direction along the way. We can never know where the unknown ahead of us might lead.
It all started with learning to trust, though I was just beginning to know God personally enough to trust Him. It all began with a people who were willing to show me the unconditional love that my Savior gives me every day.
The place that I was afraid to move to, fearful that I would never fit in, helped to mold me into the woman I am today.
Though I moved back to Wisconsin many years ago, I will cherish my time spent in Texas for the life lessons God gave me, and for opening my heart to love all of His people, everywhere, with the unconditional love with which He first loved me.