My mom used to have a plaque in our kitchen with bright flowers painted all around the border, and it read, “Bloom where you’re planted.”
Sometimes we love where we’re planted, don’t we? Sometimes … well, not so much.
Sister, maybe the “not so much” is where you find yourself today. Perhaps you’ve recently moved and you’re struggling to feel welcome in your new neighborhood or city. Or, it’s possible that you’ve lived in the same place for a long time, but still feel unconnected and at a loss on how to build community.
Whatever your story is, this week’s 4:13 Podcast guest, Shauna Pilgreen, has practical advice and biblical insight to help you love where you live.
Shauna is an author, coach, and speaker. She and her husband, Ben, started Epic Church in San Francisco in 2010. They have three boys and a daughter adopted from India. Her book is Love Where You Live and it’s full of just practical ways to live “sent” right where you are.
You’re going to love this conversation! You’ll feel like you’re having coffee with an old friend you just met—and, when we’re done, you’re going to have the tools you need to make the most out of where you live.
How to Make the Most of Where You Live
- Embrace living “sent.” When Shauna and her family moved to San Francisco to start a church, they didn’t fall in love with the city right away. Shauna says that even though she was there mentally, it took a while for her heart to catch up. The Pilgreens have been there almost nine years now, and Shauna shares that her heart is still growing in love with this global city.
But Shauna says that’s where living “sent” comes in. She explains that it is a way of seeing where we live, what we get to do there, and Whose name we get to do it in. Living “sent” is a strategy or mindset of loving the people in our towns and then watching as God connects the dots.
Maybe you can relate to Shauna. Even though you’re exactly where God wants you to be, your heart isn’t 100% “in” yet. You’re struggling to love where you are. If that’s you, one thing you can do is to embrace this idea of living “sent.” Remind yourself that God has put you there to love those around you. Then watch how He works as you choose to love where you are and to reach out to others.
- Change your vocabulary. When Shauna talks about where she lives and what she does, she consistently uses the phrase “get to” instead of “have to.” Her vocabulary is one of opportunity and not of drudgery.
Shauna says that the places we call home are going to let us down sometimes. And when they do, we’re going to be forced to decide, “Is it time to pack up and move and find another place that’s going to do it for me?” Or, are we going to figure out, “This is where God has me for right now,” and ask, “What is it that He has me here for?”
When you are struggling to love where you live, start by changing your vocabulary. When you do, it’ll change your perspective. Adopt a mindset of “I get to do this,” and “I get to do that.” Sometimes you can’t change the reality of your neighborhood or your situation, but when you choose different words, it helps you see where you live in a fresh, new way.
- Become the welcome. Shauna shares that one of their family’s philosophies is that they don’t wait for the welcome. Instead, part of living “sent” for them has been becoming the welcome. They put themselves out there and introduce themselves. Whether it’s the librarian, the barista, or the grocery store clerk, they say hello and start a conversation.
You may be an introvert, and the idea of welcoming others is outside your comfort zone. Oh, friend, I understand! In high school, I was such an introvert that my hero dad helped me. He gave me five questions I could ask to start a conversation. For example, one was asking the other person about their family, while another was about how long they’ve lived there. Like me, you can come up with a strategy to help you welcome others.
Whether you are brand new to your area or you’ve been there a while, don’t expect your location to gravitate toward you. Instead, put yourself out there and gravitate toward others.
- Find your quadrants. Shauna says that by identifying our quadrants—or the four geographical locations around town where we spend the most time—we can learn to maximize our impact on the lives of others.
How can you find your quadrants? Each quadrant is centered around a primary place you do life: where you work, where your home is, where your kids go to school or where you find R&R, and your church. The goal is to try to do as much as you can as close as you can to these four locations.
For example, you can do your dry cleaning, haircuts, and doctor appointments in your work quadrant. Or, you may go grocery shopping near your church. The key is to make choices so your life overlaps as much as possible and you are in the same places with the same people. This helps you build community and make connections. And, when you have those things, it becomes easier to love and make the most of where you live.
- Create your own “dweller tips.” When Shauna’s family first moved to San Francisco, they didn’t know anyone. But, in the nine years that they’ve lived there, God has gifted them with connections to others as they’ve said hello and pushed through the awkward moments to get to know the people around them. In the process, she’s learned what are called “dweller tips” from others.
Dweller tips are words of advice and wisdom you can give to someone new to your community. They flow from you being who you are in your current season of life and then sharing with others from that point of view.
For example, in Shauna’s book, she shares about her friend who is an accountant in one of the top law firms in the city. When meeting with new clients, her friend makes sure she mentions where she goes to church early on in conversations.
Sister, you can start loving where you live today. Because remember, whatever you face, wherever you live, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
Books by Jennifer Rothschild
More from Shauna Pilgreen
- Love Where You Live: How to Live Sent in the Place You Call Home
- Shauna’s website
- Follow Shauna on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
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What’s one tip from Shauna that you plan to try this week?