Monday, September 8, 2014

When God Gives You a City

Most of you think this post is going to be about Paris. It's not. It's about Columbus, Ohio.

The flight to my connection in O'Hare gave me the time I needed to mourn, process, deal. The older I get, the slower I transition. When I went to Virginia Beach for a summer during college with Cru, I didn't even pack until the night before, let alone think about it or get excited. Even more so with Paris. And watching the last bits of Ohioan shores on Lake Erie drift away beneath me, I realized what a homegrown Midwesterner I am.

Now, this is a scandalous admittance for me, saying I love that ol' scarlet-and-gray flyover state. This from the girl who wanted none of that hometown stuff, but oh! to see the world, to move to exciting places as soon as her feet touched the ground! I begged God every night of my senior year of college to send me somewhere amazing, somewhere I would meet my destiny. And he stuck me with a job in Columbus.

I remember riding my bike last fall, and watching a glorious sunset behind the cityscape and scornfully pouting, "Here, God? You want me here? I'd rather be any place else in the world."
And God's response was something I'll never forget.
He said, "Love the city I gave you."

How many of us really love the city we live in? I don't mean just put up with it. I mean drink in its smells and colors and sounds. I mean learn about its history, its future. Study its streets and flowers and buildings. A city is an organic thing, constantly growing, stretching, repairing, restoring. In order to know and love your city, you have to check in with it constantly. You have to know its needs, its pleasures, its problems. To love a city requires commitment.

The funny thing is, I didn't want to do any of this. I didn't want Clipper's games or Short North gallery hops or Red White and Boom. And I certainly didn't want to commit to the same state I'd been living in my whole life. I wanted to be as far away as possible. In Nashville, in California, in...Paris?

But it was the way he said it. He gave it to me. Gave. Had he said "the city I put you in" or "the city I assigned you to," how different my approach would have been. But he said gave. As in, a gift. As in, something that someone specifically picks out, with you personally in mind, hoping you will choose to keep it and cherish it. Something not to be suffered through or tossed aside. Could I learn to cherish this hand-me-down, everyone-stays-here city?

During my year of working in Columbus, I was blessed to see more sides of her than I ever saw before. And that didn't happen on accident. I thought, Well, if I'm going to be here, I'm going to make the most of it. I joined clubs, tried restaurants, went dancing, and eventually become a certified tourism ambassador (which is why I ended up in Paris today, read this post.) I got involved at a church, not because I wanted to, but because I knew I needed to. I found there a most unexpected and deeply loving community. I worked hard, really hard, at making friends and keeping them.

And in the end, I fell in love with Columbus, Ohio. Who would have thought I would ever say it was hard for me to leave Ohio for Paris? Not me. But God knew.
What we think is only as a bridge can sometimes truly be our anchor.

What about you? Has God given you a city? If so, what are you going to do about it?


  1. Ruthie, I am so excited for you as you begin your new adventure in Paris. And for you to share it via this blog with anyone and everyone is generous and will be cathartic for you. Thanks! Looking forward to reading your ponderings over the next year. And the French food, mmmm, keep those details coming! Have fun and go with God as I know you will. Love, Aunt Jenny

    1. Thank you Aunt Jenny! I hope to post some yummy French fall recipes coming up soon!