Growing up… oh I’d say I can remember this from about the age of 10 or 12 and until he died 4 years ago… my father would exhort in some form or another “This is God’s country!” or “Oklahoma is God’s country!” or “When you movin’ back to God’s country?”
As a child, I didn’t think much about those comments,
but as I approached 17, 18 and up through the decade of my 20’s, I would roll my eyes, either overtly or in my mind, and think “You have got to be kidding!” This is one of the dullest, ugliest places I have ever seen. I mean, how about the Rocky Mountains
or the Pacific Ocean
or even a desert or a canyon or SOMETHING for crying out loud.” I vividly remember thinking when I was a senior in high school “I’m getting out of this place and I’m never coming back.” Oh my, that statement makes me shudder.
Well. As you can see. My plan did not work out. And, by the way, I learned a long time ago. Never say “Never.”
My husband and I met and moved back here in 1995
By that time I was in my mid-thirties and had been living in Los Angeles for 8 years. Prior to that, I lived in San Antonio, TX for 8 years. Four years of University and four years in the work force. So after 16 years in 2 big cities and through a series of interesting events (I need to tell you that story later) we decided to start our life together in Enid, America Oklahoma. The town we both had grown up in. Matt would be moving back here from working at the Department of Energy in Washington DC.
I couldn’t believe it. But here I was.
Moving back to the place I said I would never return to. But I knew…..we both knew, it was the right thing to do. Somehow, it was a God-thing.
For the first 5 years we lived here, I was in culture shock
I missed the restaurants, the grocery stores, the geography and the excitement. Los Angeles was alive and this place felt, well, dead to put it bluntly. But, at the same time, I was sick of the big city and how EVERYTHING you did was a hassle. It was a hassle to get gas in your car. It was a hassle to go to the grocery store. There was always traffic, and back then people didn’t have cell phones to while away the time of a commute.
Fast Forward to living in Enid
I remember one day Matthew and I were driving out in the Oklahoma countryside and he said “Look at those hills. They are really beautiful.” Say what? What hills? There isn’t a hill around here as far as the eye can see. What the heck are you talking about?” He then pointed to a very slight rise in elevation of the land way out to the west. “Ok. I guess I can see that. But honey. Are you telling me that you really think that is a hill? And, might I add, there ain’t one thing beautiful about it.”
Well. I’m definitely eating my words now.
Fast Forward again to about a month ago.
We just returned home from a week of vacation in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.
It’s beautiful. No doubt about it. Magnificent.
And we spent most of our time fishing and hiking
and I am grateful for the opportunity.
It was wonderful to be in the midst of that beauty.
But….there was something about it….something else….it’s been hard for me to articulate…you may not understand me at all on this, and I would understand that.
About 2 days before the end of our vacation,
I had the first stirrings of wanting to come home. Huh? I haven’t been here in 3-4 years. Haven’t had a real vacation of any length in that amount of time. Chill girl. You have forgotten how to experience a new place; how to have a good time. But no…. I don’t think that was it.
I was having a hard time connecting with God
Oh, He is always there – just waiting for us to call on Him, but my impetus to connect with him was lacking for some reason. Hmmm. What’s up with that? I mean, here we sit among gorgeous mountains, lakes, scenery.
But we were also hanging out in a lush, money-driven, high-falutin’ ski resort built for luxury.
Usually, if you go here, you WILL spend a lot of money.
We had an old family place to stay in and in the summer, fishing and hiking don’t cost a penny I’m happy to say.
But all around us, this lifestyle of luxuriating in wealth and riches and beautiful clothes, cars, restaurants, and jewelry was palpable and invading my senses, and after 4-5 days started to become nauseating.
By the end of the trip, I couldn’t wait to get home
I couldn’t wait to see my wide, open spaces and feel God again. Of course, God was there, but something about this place distanced me from Him. It reminded me of something I heard Garrison Keillor say on a radio show soon after we moved back to Oklahoma. “People in the central part of the country don’t have time for self-help, finding themselves, etc. etc. They are too busy swatting mosquitoes.”
Finding God Through The Stuff
After moving to Oklahoma from Los Angeles , a self-help, self-involved haven, I totally understood that comment. For me, when there is everything a person might ever need within easy grasp, finding a need for God can become obscured by the stuff.
I’m not saying we won’t go back to Colorado. Maybe there is more to this than I have explored. We are blessed to have a nice place there that we can stay in for very little cost, and for a beautiful change of scenery, but…..I don’t know….time will tell.
Just one more look around?
About 1/3 of the way home, we stopped in Colorado Springs for some touring around, but I was still chomping at the bit to hit the road. To leave this place too. We had to spend the night somewhere. Matthew asked if I wanted to stay overnight there or drive on a few more hours to some small town in the middle of nowhere. PLEASE. TAKE ME TO THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!
As we got into the flat ground of Kansas and then Oklahoma,
it was getting close to dusk. We passed by farm after farm and the sky was more beautiful than I’d ever seen it. Blues, grays, pinks, purples, oranges, reds, lots of clouds. It was perfection. I was close to jumping out of my skin I was so thankful to be home and so amazed at the beauty. And believe it or not, I didn’t take a picture. Huh? You gotta be kidding! Well, all I can say is that I was consumed with the experience. I’m kicking myself now. I suppose if I considered myself a professional photographer I would have. Guess I better start thinking that way if I’m ever going to be able to explain things to anyone.
I did find this picture of our girls about 5 or 6 year ago.
Anyway, I can’t help but think God has something special planned for this state. Oklahoma. With the craziness of our world, a place like this is just what most people probably need.
This was taken about 10 years ago. I’m on the left with my parents.
Yes, Daddy. I think you were right all along. This IS God’s Country. Forgive me for being such a headstrong thing. Your wisdom continues to pervade my consciousness and will be a lasting legacy.