When I moved to Kentucky three years ago, I had one thought in mind: I wouldn’t be staying long. My initial reaction was that I was in my “wilderness” where I would move and grow into what it meant for me to be in ministry in the United Methodist Church. Never did I believe, or wanted, to stay in Kentucky longer than to have enough time after graduation to pack my belongings and move on.
That was three years ago. Today, things are different – much different. Recently my wife and I made the decision that we would not be moving to Virginia when we graduate this year but remain, here, in the Bluegrass State.
So, how did I, and my family, move from being committed to not being committed to Kentucky to being willing and wanting to stay in this place that has become home? That is where the story gets interesting.
First, it is important to address why I didn’t want to stay here. A lot of it had to do with my own lack of knowledge about the state – other than sports knowledge – when I moved here in 2007. I thought it wasn’t a place worth staying, but that where I was living, at the time, North Carolina was the place to be. Kentucky, I thought, didn’t have anything for me, and I didn’t have anything for it. We would have a dirty, short-term relationship, and that would be that.
Even when I met my wife, our first reaction was to locate to where she grew up – Virginia – and not where she had lived for her entire adult life – Kentucky. (We never argued that we were completely sensible in this whole thing.)
So, we participated in the candidacy process in Virginia. All the while, we were living, working, and worshiping here in Kentucky. We were growing relationships. We were fostering connections. We were becoming a part of something special in Kentucky.
Slowly, and by slowly I mean I’ve seen a turtle move faster, Kentucky became an option for us. It took both myself and my wife to humble ourselves and to really ask ourselves where we needed to be and, ultimately, where God wanted us to be. No longer would it be about our own needs, our own wants, and our own desires, but would be about God’s desire for us and where God wanted us. (Yes, even those with a calling to professional vocational ministry have trouble about seeking their will first and then getting it blessed by God.)
When we turned to God, we started to see Kentucky in a different light. It no longer became this place we wanted to move far away from, but this place we wanted to be. It became this place where we saw doors opened for us and opportunities to relate to people in ways that we knew only was from God.
It was only then that we saw that it was Kentucky, and not Virginia and not North Carolina, that we were to stay. This was not what I desired when I came in 2007, but I believe growth in whom I am as a future minister and being willing to allow God lead this process is what led me to this.
The fact it took three years to come to this decision should indicate how hard of a decision it was to make. I know this is where we need to be and want to be. It took a long time to get to this point, but we are thrilled to be here and ready to move forward in embracing all things of what it means to live and be in Kentucky.
Just don’t expect me to wear Kentucky blue … just yet.