“You can take the girl out of the small town, but you can’t take the small town out of the girl.”
This girl agrees.
The majority of my life has been spent in, or near, a small town. My young adult plans were to move to a bigger city, and I did. Marrying my husband, however, moved me back out to the rural community. Twelve years ago we moved closer to my hometown. I’m glad God brought me back “home.”
Every day through our north windows, I am able to see the small town I spent much of my younger life in. I see its street lights glowing at night. I see the tops of its buildings by day. I can even see the roof of my childhood home, and the church I grew up in. And, I can still hear the whistles and see the trains that used to rattle my childhood bedroom windows.
I drove through my small town today. And for some reason, memories of my childhood flooded my mind. And why the memories this trip? I’m not sure. I’ve traveled through often. But these memories were vivid, real, and touched my heart. I won’t share them all with you, as understandably, they won’t mean as much to you as they do to me. But life in this small town was good. I believe I am a better person today because of its impact on me as a young child and young adult.
Growing up in a small town taught me much…
- Life is community. There was more than groceries sold and engines fixed at the local grocery store and mechanic shop. Ray’s Foodland and Bill’s Garage were two important community businesses. People of our little town shopped locally. They supported the businesses that supported local families. I am a product of one of those local businesses. My dad was a smart business owner and a hard worker. And because of local support, his business was blessed.
- Life is simple. With no stop lights, a small post office, a gas station, a barber shop–life in our town was pretty simple. Kids on bicycles, roller skates, playing “Kick the Can” up at “the lot,” and playing Hide-and-Seek in the dark. Families didn’t seem to be in a hurry. No racing from one thing to another. We looked out for each other, and each other’s children. People were more important than things.
- Life is an adventure. We found our share of things to do in a small town…some were good, some were no-so-good. Summer baseball games and hanging out on Railroad Street afterwards. Taking walks, and jogging with friends on gravel roads outside of town. We were encouraged to try new things, and to live life well, as we learned boundaries. Everybody knew everybody. It was hard to get away with anything in that small town. But in retrospect, that was a good thing. 🙂
- Life is relationships. Neighbors would stop by for a cup of coffee, or for a cup of sugar. Some of Mom’s dearest friends were our neighbors. Summertime would fill our porch steps and porch swing with friends and those living near us. They were the ones whom we shared much of our life with. Friends, neighbors, and teachers from back then are still in my life today.
- Life is important. How we lived affected others. The relationships we built were priceless. The memories were, and still are, precious. Each day was a chance to make life a little better. Each decision made an impact. Three churches, and those who attended them, made an eternal impact. Each person was important. Each person mattered.
The cool thing is, life is still these things! Why have many of us gotten away from the community, the simplicity, the adventure, the relationships, the importance of life? Why have I gotten away from them? Life doesn’t need to be this crazy, busy, jumbled-up mess that we sometimes make it to be.
It’s good to hit the pause button of life and reflect, reevaluate and realign. These memories caused me to do that today. I’m thankful. And I’m grateful for having the blessing of growing up in my small town!
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