By Kristeen Bruun
On my wall hangs a plaque that a friend engraved for me. It says, “Want to make God laugh? Tell God your plans!” I certainly must believe in a laughing God…
Eight years ago, I moved to the small town in Texas where I now live. I had a job here and it looked like the job would work out successfully. Which it did, all the way to retirement. Once I was living here, I transferred my membership to a local congregation.
All the same, except for the job, it wasn’t an easy transition. The wonderful thing about small towns is how cozy they are; how people fit together in them; how families know each other. That’s also the difficulty, of course, for anyone new showing up. During the first few years, I would frequently complain, “I could live here until I die and be buried here, and I would still be a stranger.”
But over time, slowly, my life began to take root in this place, with these people. I realized that everything I needed—post office, library, grocery store, doctors, church, and anything else—was within a 15 minute drive.
I learned some people’s names, and some people called me by mine at church on Sunday. I volunteered for a variety of tasks. I taught kids and adults. During COVID, I learned to teach via Zoom. I sang in the choir. My gifts were welcomed. I made a couple of friends. I became a CASA (court-appointed special advocate).
When my granddaughter became old enough to fly unaccompanied, she was sent for a visit a couple of times each year. She was welcomed and grew to love my congregation.
I began to think of this as my “toes-up” congregation in a positive way. “I will be here until I am called to my nursing home, or to my place in the heavenly choir,” I told myself (and anyone else who asked). “Roots,” I marveled. And I was deeply grateful for their growth and strength.
Delightful though it was, life in this town was not standing still. The local economy entered a growth spurt. The population increased. I heard people complaining that they missed the “small town feel” of their past lives.
With a shock, I realized that I had been priced out of the rental market. Once I accepted that, I began to discern where to go next. I had a few options, but in the end, I felt that if I had to move and reconstruct my life, the best choice was to move closer to my son and daughter-in-law.
So in two months, I will be relocating to Pueblo, Colorado (a climate with four distinct seasons!). The rents are reasonable. The city is larger, but still manageable, I think.
It’s been about 20 years since I have been immersed in an urban setting. Museums. A zoo. A larger library with more services. This is an adventure, one I did not expect to have.
So, gift or challenge?
Both, of course.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD,
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
That has been one of my favorite verses for a long time, through many of the twists and turns of life. I will be holding onto it as I say good-bye to many people whom I have come to love, and step forward into the unknown.