A recent study from Harvard ranked the U.S.’s metros according to happiness. The happiest city was Lafayette, LA. The unhappiest city was New York City. And the runner up for last place? My current residence: St. Joseph, MO.
My husband and I were both born and raised here, albeit in different parts of town.
If you’re a kid growing up here, you’ve probably dreamed of moving away to someplace more glamorous, more exciting. In fact, I used to call this town a “swirling vortex,” because so many of us wanted out but couldn’t break free.
So the only real surprise to me about this “unhappy” ranking was that our town was even big enough to be in the study. Also, the humor isn’t lost on us that we can’t even be the best at being the worst… we came in second.
There are plenty of things we can find to complain about here, like the lack of good jobs. Or the lack of things to do. Or our many backward citizens who resist most positive change. Yeah, there are some irritating things about this town, and on more than one occasion, my husband and I have considered moving.
We did some virtual house hunting in “better” midwestern cities. He dreamed of mountains and I dreamed of beaches and selling our snow boots.
Sometimes I wish I could just walk away from the difficult things in my life. Sometimes it’s just so dark. Sometimes it’s just so overwhelming… sometimes I wonder if life would be different in another place.
“Let’s live somewhere else,” we said. “Then we’ll find peace.”
But right now I’m in my 13-window office and a 64 degree breeze is giving me goosebumps. My little girl is toddling around my workspace, cooing and shrieking and distracting me from my work. Cars on this busy street pass and I wonder where they’re going. Are they stressed? Do they hate this town? Are they the unhappy ones? Because when I let go of my dreams of grandeur, I realize I’m quite content here. Yes, here, in this old and drafty house in this town full of imperfect people with imperfect ideas… I’m a Finding beauty here – SarahKovac.comperfect fit. Even if there were a perfect town, my imperfect self would be uncomfortable there.
*Here* is the only place we’ll ever have, no matter what our address is. And *here* is where God gives me another breath. Where I see my children smile. Where my husband can wrap me up in his arms. That only happens *here.* Yep, in this, the second unhappiest city… Here!
I bet you don’t live in a city that beats mine on the “unhappy” scale, but you might feel like it.
Maybe it seems like the skies might be bluer somewhere else. Like the opportunities, the love, the peace is *somewhere else.* Maybe you’re lacing up your running shoes and about to bolt. Well, maybe you’ll find something better elsewhere, maybe not. There’s no guarantee.
But what I *can* guarantee you is that peace can come to you, right where you sit today. No running or hunting or chasing is required on your part. If God promised you fulfillment, that promise was meant for today. Imperfect today and for imperfect you. If He promised you peace, He means here. In this imperfect place.
Stop waiting for perfection to happen to you (it won’t), and watch for His goodness even in the dark.
Because the darker it is, the more stars you can see. Keep looking deeper into that pitch blackness, and you’ll find redeeming, sparkling light. No matter where you go, there will be night. But that night never has to overtake you, because *you* are that burning, shining creation that cuts right through it. You are the redemption. You are the light.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.