Everybody Needs To Just Leave For a While, Or Steeped in Tradition

I’m still out town, as we extended our stay in my Pennsylvania hometown a few extra days (side note, I’ll get around to replying to comments. I haven’t been online for more than 10 minutes a day lately, so thank you for your patience and continued support). Though I lived here for 22 years I forgot what humidity is like – I walk around all day with the sticky feeling as though someone sprayed me head to toe with soda pop.

I moved away four years ago, by accident. Sorry if I’ve told this story too many times on here – after college I loaded my VW van with a mattress, surfboard and bike and traveled for 5 months. I really thought I’d return after the trip and maybe go to seminary or travel abroad – but I ended up in Oregon and didn’t return home for 15 months, and that was only to say visit some family and collect the remainder of my stuff.

I think for me, I would never have become truly who I am had I not left. If I had stayed in Pennsylvania I’d so easily just do what I’ve always done. But when you leave and take up life in a whole new place you start fresh – and can do what you truly want to. You have no habits to fall back into – in fact you’re forming brand new ones. And for that reason I think everyone needs to leave – even if they do come back – just so they can become who they are.

It’s always bizarre to be back home – though my time here was far longer than I’ve been away it’s like I’ve forgotten my time here. I am very disconnected from who I was here. Looking back I can see little hints of where I’d go in the person I was here, but they were always little flashes as I had the way I’ve always done things to fall back into.

I think we spend most of our lives trying to be comfortable, when it seems comfort is the death of a soul. We need to be shaken and moved and stretched. We claim faith be a living thing but it easily falls into the traps of routine and tradition, which is why so many stories in Scripture are of God doing a cannonball into our little baby pools.

Did you leave your home town? What did you learn from leaving? Is your faith very traditional? What are the pros and cons of that?

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5 Responses to Everybody Needs To Just Leave For a While, Or Steeped in Tradition

  1. Larry Hughes says:

    We left our home town many years ago due to transfers and promotions with a company I was with. It was a definite eye opener as we moved over the years. We got to see other cultures, lifestyles, and traditions. We were able to experience the history of other parts of the country. We were able to experience many of natures natural habitats which I feversihly recorded with photos. We also eperienced the negative parts of our society but the good often over shadowed the negative.

    However through many visits to our home town over the years, we still yearn for the laid back lifestyle of our home town and the friendly nature of the locals. It is a nice place to get away from the high pressure of every day living in the big city. The only thing that prevents us from moving back is our adult kids and grand kids fail to share our yearning for a simpler more laid back life style. The thought of not being around the kids daily weighs heavily on our hearts.

    That little town is quickly growing and many things we remember about it is changing, thus it is not what we once considered home any more. The slang ” You can’t go back to the past any more ” and “Times change” is certainly a fact in our situation.

    On a positive note in our experiences, we have met many more people that have become friends that we may have never met, We have encounterd a wider and diverse faith culture that helped us grow in our faith, and here is now our new home town.

  2. Dhouda says:

    Ha- I left home to go to seminary! Piled all my stuff into my pickup truck and literally drove off into the sunset. Went from being one of the most liberal people I had ever met to being the most conservative person at my seminary, just by changing location. It was eyepopping. Turned out I didn’t even know what ‘liberal’ meant.

    Leaving home gave me a better sense of my place in the Christian world. I mean, Christianity is bigger than American conservative evangelicalism! I wasn’t stupid prior to leaving home, exactly, but this mindboggling fact hadn’t really occurred to me. I’m sure I’m still parochial in many ways that I can’t see, but I shed more parochialism when I left home that I could have guess that I was carrying.

    More importantly, I’m primed for shedding parochialism- I expect, when I meet new people or go new places, to lack the proper context. If I had stayed in my town, the importance of knowing context wouldn’t ever have been so obvious to me.

  3. I left my hometown (West Mifflin, PA…near Pittsburgh) when I was 17 to head off to college in KY. I came back one summer to work and have never gone back since except to visit my late mother and occasionally my estranged father. I have no desire to go back either. I like the country. I like the small to medium-sized towns I have lived in. I like the small town I now live in. I have one brother who married and lives in SanDiego; one who lives in our homestead; and one moving back to PA with his wife of 1 year. I don’t believe my faith is traditional in the boring sense but traditional if you count classic beliefs (God, Jesus, HS, Bible) as those. I am much more alive than I ever was growing up in a traditional setting (that was back in the 60s) and much much more alive than i was in my early years as a pastor. Lot more explanation can go into that. 🙂

  4. Amy says:

    Actually, I live in Pennsylvania and it was hot and humid here this weekend. My best friend and I have been talking about this very topic–we need to leave the Lehigh Valley. Being an only child of divorced parents makes it difficult, but since my Dad doesn’t really interact with me, I only have to worry about Mom right now. We don’t really have other family that’s close to us. My best friend doesn’t have any family in the area (long story). But we’re tired of the area, tired of knowing the same people we’ve always known who refuse to see us as anyone or anything different, and have a bigger idea of where and what we want to be. I do believe that God is preparing our hearts…and you can always go home.

    And, wow, how many of us are from Pennsylvania?

  5. David says:

    Did you leave your home town? Yes, I lived in CT for 26 years before I did. I moved to Cape Cod, and save a shallow acquaintances from an AA meeting I attend before I moved there, I knew no one. I tried going to the Anglican church there, but they had never heard of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, that was a shock and I abandoned church altogether. I stayed there 21 years before moving to Boston for work.

    What did you learn from leaving? That I could live without the assistance of my parents. They were always helping me out with whatever was going on.

    Is your faith very traditional? Not on your life! I would say radical!

    What are the pros and cons of that? I am happy to be where God wants me; to be at the church where I can be myself, and use all the gifts that I have. It is where people love me, and God is at work. The local church folks never called, and these people got in cars and drove 55 miles each way to visit, to pray, and to support me.

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