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Stay Stay Stay (Dominique's Version)

Updated: Sep 17, 2022

I’m sitting here today instead at one of my best friends sister’s wedding because of a COVID exposure. I’ve just canceled yet another trip to see family over New Years for similar reasons and it’s starting to feel eerily similar to this time last year. In the grand scheme of things I know I’m blessed that these are the biggest disappointments I’m facing today. COVID hasn’t taken too much from me, but it has asked something of me, something that has challenged me tremendously - stay. Stay home, stay safe, stay by yourself, stay in the same place you’ve been because “these are unprecedented times” and everyday brings a new challenge or worry. Arguably, these two years of “staying” have been what I didn’t know I needed and to be honest never wanted.

For the the first time of my life I’ve stayed. I’ve stayed in the same house, same community, and the same job. I’ve been in the same place for almost five years, almost two years longer in the same daily community than anytime in my life (I moved schools about every three years growing up). I’ve had to learn the hard work building down and not out. Down deep into a community I never thought I’d be in more than two years. Down into friendships, showing up day after day, even when we’re not at our best. Down into a job that has continued to unexpectedly grow me and my career. Down into some deeper and more important issues, like staying with myself long enough to look at my short comings. Down, not out exploring new places or adventuring.

I don’t think I’m alone in this struggle when it comes to my generation. Never in the history of the world has a group of young people had so much access to newness and movement. We can pretty much go anywhere and do anything at the drop of a hat. However, I’m starting to worry we’re going to miss the whole point of it - and by “it” I mean life. I’m afraid alluring Tik Tok videos of people who dropped everything to leave for a new life will cheat us all out of the fact that while all of that is good and exciting at some point we need to learn to stay-at least for a little bit. Here’s what I’ve discovered in the last two years of my “stay” in life:

The extraordinary is in the ordinary

During COVID I was “forced” to stay in Santa Barbara 90% of the time and the other 10% of my time was spent at my parents house in Orange County. Not a bad place to be stuck, I know. However, before the pandemic I was almost always jetting off somewhere every weekend, anything to trick me into believing that the normal week I had just lived wasn’t really my life, that I could go and find adventure for two days a week and feel satisfied. Honestly though I still always felt empty and had trouble finding true belonging in the community I was living in Monday-Friday.

During Covid I found a rhythm, I went to the grocery store every week and cooked meals at home, I found my favorite coffee shop and got to know the baristas, I fell in love with tacos stands and the best places to watch a sunset. I couldn’t live without my Saturday morning routine of making coffee, avocado toast, lighting a candle and cracking my bible open to pour over the book of Exodus time and time again (talk about people who knew a thing or two about staying in a place they never planned to be in for long). I fell in love with this extraordinary life in the ordinary things and routines I got to do everyday, every week, month in and month out over two years.

Consistency is key

I had been in a community of people for just over two years when COVID hit, mind you that’s just long enough to still be your cheery, all good self. However, move forward a little bit and the real you really starts to come out. I’m not saying it’s bad, but it’s realizing how you speak to people when you are comfortable with them and hangry. It’s realizing how impatient you get caring for people when you talk them through same problem for the umpteenth time (and mind you, they do the same for you, if you don’t believe me you’re lying to yourself). It’s working through tough conversations when feelings get hurt or intentions are misunderstood. Once life settles the real work begins and it’s only once we stay and really start rubbing shoulders with those around us for extended periods of time that we face our true selves and all the habits, hang ups and hurts that come as a package piece with us. It’s hard, but beautiful work that will humble and grow you tremendously.

Your soul has time to rest

There is an upside to staying, it’s that you get to make a home somewhere. Your soul is seen and known and when this happens I believe it opens us up to rest. You can find peace in being around people who truly know and understand you. You come home and you don’t have to explain “that face” to your roommate after a long day of work, they know you and *bonus* they know your favorite cookies to bake to put a smile on your face or to leave an encouraging note by your door (I have the BEST roommates in case you were wondering :) ). Your coworkers know when you’re stressed and know how to encourage you or help you out to make your day a bit lighter. You aren’t spending days worrying about building new relationships, you’re living in long established ones and I’ve come to see that as true rest and refreshment for a soul. I’ve also come toe believe that it’s God way of preparing you for whatever He have may have next in your life, you’ll be ready and refreshed to face the next challenge after you’ve had some time to rest.

I’m not so naive to think I will stay in the place forever and I’m not advocating we do that (btw this not applicable if it’s a toxic situation, if you’re in one of those please get out). But next time you’re tempted to run or move onto the next thing because the place you are now is too boring, too hard or not “Instagram worthy enough” I want to encourage you to stay, at least just a little longer. Plant your feet, find the extraordinary in the ordinary, dig deep into consistency and rest- you might be surprised at what God has for you.

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