In the US, most of us have some degree of control over where we live. For some, there is a choice of which country. Others may be confined to a certain city/town, but have control over which neighborhood. This leads to a question running around in my mind:
Should your beliefs have an impact on where you live?
Common sense leads me to believe that there are “good” areas and “bad” areas. Anyone who has the means to live in a good area should do just that. Good areas have better schools. More well-behaved kids will become our kids’ peers. The actual housing is nicer. The neighbors are people just like us. There is a level of peace, comfort, and safety. The neighborhood cars have mufflers (a personal favorite of ours).
Some of the above reasons for choosing good areas may be vital to certain things that you feel God has called you to do. But many times, in my life, they have merely been the result of good old common sense and societal pressure. And I don’t like that.
One of the refreshing things about our decision to move to New York (to me) was that it certainly was not a result of common sense. But, from the moment we stepped out of that first cab with our suitcases, you had better believe that our choice of neighborhoods was. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy sitting next to older ladies in fur coats while I’m riding public transportation. Or seeing the rich French moms and their kids dressed to the nines in the public sandbox with Cool Baby. I feel safer in my little corner of the Upper East Side than I have ever felt anywhere. But is that a good reason to stay?
Right now, we are at a crossroads regarding where to live. It’s pretty much down to NYC or near my family in Florida. So far, life here does not look too sustainable financially, especially with additional monthly expenses coming up in June. A recent conversation with a new friend here reminded me to think about this decision in terms of my beliefs about who Jesus is and what he did on earth. Yikes.
Common sense enters the scene and says, “Sure, you could’ve been Mother Teresa back when you were single and childless. But things are different now. You have a child who is solely dependent on you for protection and teaching.”
Okay, but where do I draw the line? I could use the I-have-a-kid excuse in my mind for virtually anything, and often have. Does having a kid make you no longer accountable to God for helping and loving your neighbors? Maybe I’m only allowed to serve neighbors who are just like me? Is having a kid a get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to living in a “bad” area by choice? (The large missionary families around the world would probably say no.)
We are all called to different things, so the specific places and reasons will be different. There is no basis for judgment. But I think we all face this issue at one time or another. For me, perhaps I have taken my calling of stay-at-home-mom a little too literally.
I’m a little nervous about where this train of thought is going. I am reminding myself that just because an idea sounds dangerous and uncomfortable, doesn’t mean that God is calling you to it. However, I also need to remind myself that just because an idea sounds dangerous and uncomfortable, does not mean that God is not calling you to it.