I have recently moved back home, Syracuse New York....I think I already told you about that.
I love being back home. The sights, the smells, the air, the people, being closer to my family, everything about this city I love. Four years ago I began to hate my city and almost everything about it. I hated the sights, the air, almost all the people, and just about everything else. I hated this city so much that I dreamed of making my escape, I did nothing except talk about and read about how much I needed to move and leave and run far, far away to find myself. Well, I am not sure if I found myself over the last two years or not but I have changed.
I have been driving around the city, looking at all the new businesses, noticing the older buildings that have been upgraded and changed, the older stores that have finally closed down and shut their doors after years of struggling. I have connected again with old friends and found ways in how they have grown and in ways they have stayed the same. The roads still have potholes, which makes driving sometimes frustrating. There are still worse parts of the city than others. My favorite tea shop has adjusted their culture a bit and there are more people sitting inside than I would care for. And although things have changed, there is still a familiarity within the belly of the city that I love. The air is cool and the scenery is still beyond enjoyable. The streets still hold some of my best and some of my worst memories, familiar streets are hard to turn down because of those memories, but I still love my city, my home.
As I drove home the other night from visiting with friends, I played a soft song, hung my arm out the window, and smoked my pipe, and I couldn't help but connect myself and my life to the life of my city.
I have been gone for two years and in that time both myself and my city have changed. Parts of us have shut down and closed up shop, we have both matured in that way. Myself and my city have made upgrades in certain area's, we have restored our foundations and thrown some paint on our exterior. And myself and my city have opened new places and new spaces.
I have come home, not with my tail tucked between my legs, but with an understanding that life is moving forward and progressing and I need to love myself enough and respect myself enough to keep from judging who I am and what I need to work on in my life.
One of the more difficult aspects of being a christian is knowing and being able to hold back judgement, especially directed at myself. I would say that I am my best and worst critic, I have a natural ability to point out my own flaws and bully myself into change. It is too easy to look around and notice those things in my life I want changed. But I don't know if that is what I should be engaging in, I don't know if that is the best use of my time and ability.
Instead of looking where I am currently and dreaming about my escape maybe I should just drive around with my window rolled down and look at the new additions, notice the places and spaces that have been closed, appreciate that upgrades. Essentially, maybe I should have more grace for myself. I can look at myself from a distance and appreciate who I am, where I have come from, and know where I am going, or at least where I am going in the moment. Above all else, I think this is how Jesus would want me to view myself. As someone who is solid, someone who has a lot to offer, someone who has made changes in some area's and upgraded other area's and has even closed down shop in the places that were just not working for anyone. I think Jesus would want me to be more content with who I am and He would want me to stop trying to plan my escape and He would want me to stop criticizing myself.
So here is to taking a drive around your city. Rolling down your window, hanging your arm outside, listening to a familiar song, and taking everything in and being okay with where you are.