The Risk of Staying

I sat at my desk in December with a scrap piece of paper and a red pen. As I began to plan out my blog for An Uncomfortable January this was the post I knew I had to write. 

It isn’t the glamorous one or the post you will have come looking for on your own. If we were in high school, this  post wouldn’t be the dreamy guy all the girls have a crush on or the really funny one that made the rounds at all the parties. Instead this post is the friend you know you need – the one who keeps things balanced and in perspective. Like the friend in high school who talked me out of getting a flower tattooed on my foot when I turned 18. We need those people.

Two years ago my husband and I left our ideal lives on the West Coast to come back to my mid-sized hometown in Texas. It just about killed me. There was no thrill to being here – I knew this place and it knew me. For better or worse. Things weren’t uncharted or fresh and – to be honest – I have a slight addiction to experiencing new things. I could easily spend my life moving on from one thing to the next in the pursuit of adventure.

I missed living in a big city with all of its foodie eateries, endless shops and unique neighborhoods that provided afternoons of exploration. Living in a place that people came to spend their vacations provided a sense of gratification. When I packed up boxes to load on the moving truck it felt like I was packing up every other exciting opportunity and sending it off for someone else to live.

Fast forward two years.

I attended a funeral  several months ago at the church I grew up in. Surrounding me were people I had known since childhood. Memories began to swirl as I looked at the faces around me. Playing barefoot in backyards trying to catch mid-summer fireflies. Late night conversations by the lake dreaming about glittery futures. Airplane rides to foreign lands together. The flood of shared experiences made my lips curl and eventually break into a full-blown smile.

These people and this place. We hold each others secrets and stories. Maybe staying here isn’t so bad after all.

So many of us idolize risk taking as a daring adventure that sets big dreams in motion and launches us to exciting destinations. Hello, didn’t you see Eat, Pray, Love? ( don’t see it. I didn’t like that movie actually )  In my life I have traveled to over twenty countries and have numerous exciting stories to share. I’ve risked big and made a home on many limbs.

Right now though, I am learning a different type of risk. The risk of staying. Don’t be fooled – in many ways it is the most uncomfortable and risky thing I have ever done.

Staying is giving up all the other “what ifs” in order to hold onto what already is. It is choosing to commit and therefore cut off other options. You forfeit the ability to just take off when things don’t go as well as you planned. You risk being bored. Ultimately staying requires the kind of bravery that cultivates instead of fluctuates.

This month some of us need to risk by going further and others need to risk by going deeper. Maybe you need to chase your dreams or maybe you need to plant your dreams. There are times and moments for both.

I love big skylines at night and streets buzzing with tourists. But I also love this place I’m in that is on the brink of something amazing. And I’m gonna stay here a while and help build this city into what I believe it can become. ‘Cause I’m risky like that in 2014.

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Filed under Faith, Fire, Going Places, Lifestyle, My Life Thus Far, Uncomfortable January 2014, Whimsy

25 responses to “The Risk of Staying

  1. Brandyn Boyd

    This was a really encouraging word for me. Thank you!!!

  2. You hit a tender spot with me for the opposite reason, I have lived my entire 43 years in the same street almost. The shops, the schools, the parks, the pools, the everything I now take my kids to I went to as a kid. Until one year ago I loved it this way and then a stirring happened, it grows stronger all the time, I want to move far away. I wanted to ignore it at first and now I embrace it and I get scared. Great post for me right now, time to take a risk.

    • Karen, wow! There is something really beautiful about living in the same place for so long. Do you think your desire is just to travel or actually move? Any specific place you want to relocate to? Glad you liked the post!

  3. 2014 is indeed a time for chasing my dreams. I spent too long “planting”. Time to take some risks for real. Great post.

  4. I also like this article. 2014 could be a year when we decide whether or not to return to our home nation after several years of living abroad. Whatever we decide, we will be taking a risk, and whatever we decide, it will be with the hope that we can settle down somewhere nice!

  5. Sheree Griffin

    I needed to hear this. I have lived in the same very small town on the upper east side of Texas for almost 30 years now. It is all my children have known, and I swore we would move when I finally graduated college as a 40-something, single momma. However, God hasn’t seen fit to give me my orders, you know, the ones that tell you “where” to go and more specifically when. I whine about it most days and try to bask in the here and now when I can manage it. Deep down, I’m a scaredy cat and I don’t want to nuture that fear in my children even if a certain level is healthy (my son seems to know no fear these days). So we sit and wait and take another step on another day. And you are so right that staying right here, here where everyone knows my name, my failures, seems to ignore any of my successes, now that’s risky. But it comes in handy when you forget your wallet at home when you buy groceries. They know you, so you can take your groceries with you and come back later to pay for them 🙂 Not frequently but it has happened, just saying. Thanks for sharing your heart!

    • Okay, first congrats on being a college grad! Second, you are right it comes in handy when you have forgotten your wallet or need someone to help you out. Third, I’ll be praying that God shows you what His next steps are!

  6. A great lesson learned, Elizabeth. It’s the truth…

  7. We experienced very similar circumstances when we moved back here when you guys did from an urban area–and it was HARD. But you’re right; there’s bravery in staying and sticking out change, resolving conflict, and living the simple rhythms of life alongside people–especially in ministry. Great post!

  8. What a fantastic post! It is me…… right now. But the opposite – I didn’t move “home” – I moved to – well you get it. Thank you for the encouragement!
    cate b I’m going to re-blog.

  9. Reblogged this on Let's Have Another Piece of Pie and commented:
    This is by a fellow blogger – what a great word – those who need this one – please hear…….

  10. Wow. “Maybe you need to chase your dreams or maybe you need to plant your dreams.” Need to chew on that for a while. Always so thankful for your insight and wisdom!!

  11. Pingback: When Your Dreams Give You Wedgies | Lark & Bloom

  12. I love this perspective! Such a good reminder and something I need to work on. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Oh, Liz, this resonates with me so much!! I feel equal discomfort when staying in normal familiar places too long. Bryan and I joke about it all the time – it’s why we’ve never lived in the same home for more than a year and a half! I get antsy and uncomfortable staying put. Thanks for sharing this! I needed to hear this reminder that sometimes the risk of staying can be really worth it.

  14. Amazing post…this is one of my biggest battles right now, too. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Great post, as we looked at the new year I knew it was another year of staying and sometimes that supplies vision because I believe in big things for this place and sometimes it provides disappointment because my vision for life at this point was only visiting here. I feel like I have collided with my past many time recently like when I knocked on our new neighbors door to introduce myself only to discover we knew each other in High School. It reminds me this isn’t the path I had envisioned though I have vision for it now. It causes me to face my past a lot and that can be uncomfortable. It also offers ample opportunity to measure life with God’s plan vs. mine. This was a great reminder that as we feel confident in staying being the right place for us it isn’t a “less than” option.

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