The Great Escapism

Why this generation needs to learn how to stay put.

Twentysomethings today are on the move. The Pew Research Center reports that out of all Americans between 18 and 29 years old, 56 percent have moved at least once, and in this same age bracket, 65 percent expect to move within the next five years. Yet even while young adults are shuffling zip codes for career choices, relationships, college degrees and ministry opportunities, the anthem of “going local” is rising all over the nation.

At first glance, living in local community seems to clash with the lifestyle of a church-hopping, apartment-renting, rootless and restless generation. But the benefits of plugging into local community are many, and make a compelling case for putting down roots even when you’re en route to the next adventure, or longing for your last. It's time to invest where you are—no matter how long you'll be there.

Live Like an Insider

Sometimes we become so addicted to the next best thing, we miss the blessings of the meantime. It’s tempting to put life on hold until we relocate to our ideal culture, city, church or neighborhood, but if we believe God has intentionally positioned us where we are, the best we can do is commit ourselves 100 percent to living in the present.

Missionary and eventual martyr Jim Elliot wrote this excellent advice for anyone whose future plans distracted from the present location, “Let not our longing slay the appetite for our living.” He penned these words to his fiancée, as their love story spanned continents apart without a wedding date in sight.

To help acclimate to your community, take the time to acquaint yourself with its unique character and culture. Choose to identify with your community as an insider rather than an outsider, and your attitude will soon overflow into action.

Make Friendships Without Time Limits

Unfortunately, there’s no welcome party for life in "the real world." There’s no freshman orientation with free food and small-talking peers all in the same boat. It can be overwhelming and intimidating to start out as a stranger or to extend yourself beyond your comfortable circle, but don’t make the mistake of missing out on friendships just because you’ll soon be moving on. Friendships are not one-size-fits-all; some will be lifelong, while others will last only for a few enjoyable seasons, and that’s OK. Give yourself permission to branch out and not let your fear of saying goodbye cripple the relational opportunities at your fingertips.

Wherever you are, finding a church home is essential for both Christian community and spiritual growth. The amazing thing about God’s Church is that you can walk through any sanctuary doors in the world and find an instant family of faith. You may not know these people yet, but you have the most important human relationship with Christ in common. Stick around during coffee hour, ask about small groups or young adult ministries and when you’ve found your niche, use your gifts to give back and serve alongside others at the food pantry or in children’s ministry.

Christian community is important, but it’s not the only place where you can make friends. Try something new and brave at a Zumba class, visit the farmers’ market, get involved in a dodgeball tournament or join a book club. By pursuing your own interests, chances are you will meet like-minded people looking for community just like yourself.

Commit Culturally

Where does your town’s local color shine through? Go exploring and find out! Instead of the usual appetizers at Chili’s, try out your city’s famous local cuisine. Check your local paper or the web for upcoming events and go to the playhouse, root for the home team or head out to an annual concert or downtown festival. Have fun discovering and supporting local pride.

When you eat and buy local, you cultivate economic and relational benefits in the community. “Going local” not only keeps that cute corner bakery in business, it converts impersonal transactions into trusted relationships. Suddenly consumer concepts are replaced with faces and friendships, as you learn the names of the people who provide your food, books, art and entertainment.

Craig Goodwin, a pastor and author of A Year of Plenty, tapped into local culture by hosting a farmers’ market in his church’s parking lot, as part of his family’s commitment to living locally for a year. In his book, Craig compares local living with incarnational living, suggesting that modeling the Incarnation is as simple as “paying attention to one’s neighborhood and community, asking, ‘What is God up to in this place?’”

Redefine "Neighbor"

Jesus equates local living with Gospel obedience when He announces the second commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). "And who is my neighbor?" you might ask. Jesus responded to this very question in Luke 10 with the parable of the good Samaritan, to illustrate that our neighbor is anyone God brings across our path—whether Jew, Gentile or Samaritan, cultures that would never intermix in Jesus’ day. “Neighbor” speaks to physical presence and proximity, while “your neighbor” emphasizes personal responsibility. Our neighbors are not only the renters next door, they are our baristas, co-workers, hairstylists, homeless men and anyone else within physical range whom we are obligated by covenantal responsibility to love.

We can love our neighbors in both small ways and large. Next time it snows, shovel your neighbor’s walk as well as your own. Offer to babysit one night for the single mom in your apartment complex, or donate a load of clothes to the nearest Salvation Army. If you commit to loving those around you in simple and practical ways, you may be surprised at the opportunities God puts in your path.

It takes time to get established in any local community, and the grass may often seem greener in neighborhoods not our own. But when we commit to living locally, good things begin to take root—personal contentment, new friendships, church families, cultural renewal and an organic, homegrown kind of grace.

Stephanie S. Smith is a twentysomething writer, editor, and literary publicist addicted to print and pixels. She runs her business, (In)dialogue Communications,from her home in Upstate New York where she lives with her husband, andyou can find her blogging at about embodiedfaith, creative life, and millennial culture or tweeting @stephindialogue.



Anonymous commented…

This article makes it seem like young people are moving only because they are searching for a good time. I am 30 and my husband and I have moved four times over the past 5 years. We did this for grad school and job opportunities not because we are restless whipper snappers. In the last two moves, if we didn't move we didn't have an income.

I appreciate the idea of staying put, and the ideas in this article are relevant to some, but I personally would be interested in reading an article that address the realities of living in a modern world and how the average Christian can adjust to them.



JusticeKids commented…

thank you for sharing this. I've been living in China for 19 months, with another 17 on my contract, with my career looking like I will be in Asia for a long time, and while I absolutely love my life, I sometimes wonder if I am doing the wrong thing by living a life that will keep me away from 'home'

RuDee Sade


RuDee Sade commented…

Right on the money. I was just grappling with this balance recently and couldn't have expressed it clearly enough to Google search how to fix it...lucky for me I stumbled across your words here. Inspiring + valid. Thanks :)

William Jorden


William Jorden commented…

Hello Ladies, Please Take A Few Minutes And Enjoy My True Stories About The Wonderful World Of Key Lime Pies As Well As The Magic Of The Most Beautiful “Mrs. Anita Pelaez” Wife Extraordinaire And The Beauty Queen Of The Key Lime Pie World! “Oh”, What An Honor That Must Be.


Blues Here, How Are You All Doing? That’s Great, I’am Just Setting Here
Watching “Major Crimes” On The Tube. Pretty Good Show. Wouldn’t You
Just Love To Be Eating A Nice Big Slice Of Anita’s Key Lime Pie As You
Two Lovers Are Snuggling There Watching The Show? Then You Two Love
Birds Can Get Into Each Others Drawers After this Episode Goes Off.
That’s Sure What My Love A I Are Contemplating As We Eat Our Second
Slice Of Pie. Well Eat Your Hearts Out, Better Luck Next Time!

“Ah”, Yes, My Little Chickadees, May Each One Of You Enjoy Your Very
Own Key Lime Pie Baked by The Lovely And Most Gracious,…Mrs. Anita
Pelaez and Her Handsome Husband ….Captain Kutchie Pelaez. Together The
Proud Owners Of Asheville’s Own

Anita And Kutchie Pelaez’s Key Lime Pie Factory And GRILL Conveniently
Located Near The Biltmore House And Estate In That Beautiful City. Known
As Heaven On Earth Whenever Mrs. Anita Pelaez Is Anywhere Near. “AH”,
The Magic Of Anita Pelaez And Her KEY LIME Pies. Voted The Country’s
Favorite For The Past 27 Consecutive Year!

…..That Babe Can Bake Me A Pie Anytime She Wants To.

Elwood Blues

Turn You’re Ladies On In Extra High Heat Mode Easily Just By Seducing
Her With “Anita Pelaez’s” Ultra-Sexy Key Lime Pies! You Know The Pies
That Her And Her Famous Husband Kutchie Have Been Baking The Last
40-Years Over Too Their Key Lime Pie Factory Near the Biltmore House and
Estate In NC.,..Yeah, That’s The Ones, You Dirty Mind! Shame On You.

Anita’s KLP Will Light Her Candle And Make Her Hard To Handle.
Guaranteed That She Will Get A-Hold Of You’re Handle Too….Your Boy
Elwood Says,….”AH”, The Magic Of Anita Pelaez ..And Her Key Lime Pies!
“Yeah”, You’ll Be “AH-ING” Too!…Put Your Faith In Anita’s Pies.

Is what they are all saying true about how eating those World Famous Key
Lime Pies Baked In The Carolina Mountains By The Former Miss Florida
USA And High Fashion And Swimsuit Model …”Mrs. Anita Pelaez”, ….Surely
Everyone Has Heard Or Read By Now That Consuming Her Wonderful Key Lime
Pies Has The Ability To Cause The Male Penis Length To Increase 50% Or
More. And The Girth Of The Erect Male Penis To Increase To Six-Inches
AROUND!….”WOW”, And Add To The Fact That Her Pies Have Been Known To
Make Males Multiorgasmic /One Orgasm One After Another With Little Or No
Reflationary Period In Between Ejaculations Is Nothing Short Of
Awesome!. Why, It’s A Miracle If You Ask Me.. ..You Can Count Me In On
That,… That’s For Damn Sure!,….Mrs. Anita Pelaez Is Surely The
Undisputed Queen Of Key Lime Pies That’s For Sure……Yes, There Was A Time
For Decadent Key Lime Pies And That Time Is Now At…..”Anita and
Kutchie’s Key Lime Pie Factory And Grille’, Conveniently Located In
Asheville, NC., Near The Biltmore House And Estate….Yes The First Lady
Of Key Lime Pies,..”Mrs. Anita Pelaez” States “For You’re Pies Only”.
…Count Us In Darling, Sweetheart, Please Wrap-Us Up A Dozen Pies
To-Go!…We’re Gettin The Band Back Together……………..Thanks,….Elwood.

I Know That Your Not Going To Believe This When You First Read It.
Don’t Worry, I Didn’t Believe It Either At First. My Dear Wife Insisted
Or As She Said, That She Was Going To Cut Me Off. Now I Like My Nooky As
Well As Anybody But When She Starts talking About Cutting Me Off. Well,
Lets Just Make A Long Story Short, If You Want To Continue Eating At
The (Y), Then You Had Better Listen To What Mama Is Whispering Into Your
Ear. Get The Damn Pies, Enjoyed Them With The Little Lady And Die A
Happy Man. End Of Story.

People, If You Want To Have A Lot More Sex Then You Need To Start Eating A Lot More Of Anita And Kutchie Pelaez’s Key Lime Pies!

…One Eyed Willie…Smooth Willie…Be Good Willie!…Elwood Blues…Darling,..Don’t Go Breaking My Heart!

Honey, What’s the number to the Key Lime Pie Factory?…We’re Out Again!

Meaghan Smith


Meaghan Smith commented…

This system itself is specially designed for surfers, which means there are workout routines included in it specific to top-notch surfing performance.
Otori Yose Select

Please log in or register to comment

Log In