“Educated in a small town / Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town / Used to daydream in that small town / Another boring romantic that’s me.” –John Mellencamp, “Small Town”
“Small Town” is my favorite Mellencamp song. I love almost everything about being from a small town. I love sitting on my front porch overlooking farm land, and moving to the back porch to see the thick stretch of trees bordering the yard. I love waiting in line at Subway and chatting with the guy behind me, whom I’ve known absolutely for my whole life because we went to church together, and our parents still do. I love how quiet it is out here and how people still wave when they pass you. If I ever get bored, Louisville is just a couple of hours away; Nashville is even closer. I feel like I live in the best spot possible, if I could choose from anywhere in the entire world.
But small town life does have its disadvantages. You can get so used to your small-town routines that sometimes, without realizing it, your vision can narrow until all you focus on is the predictable patterns and experiences that define your little corner of the world. My husband, who didn’t grow up here, is obsessed with eating breakfast at a little diner on the edge of a nearby town. When he first mentioned it, I was shocked. “Why can’t we eat there?” he asked.
“Well…I’ve never eaten there before,” I said. My husband thought it was stupid, and he was right–I honestly could come up with no better reason. Why shouldn’t we stop in some Saturday morning and have breakfast on the way to the grocery? I didn’t know. All I knew is that I had never, ever eaten breakfast there, and so there must be something wrong with it. Right?
Part of the reason that my husband and I moved back here is that we were hoping to have kids quickly, and this is an excellent place to raise them. We’re still hoping. I’m excited at the thought of raising my children in a small town, where they can run down to the store for a Coke or take off on their bikes without my freaking out that they’re going to get kidnapped. But I worry about the smallness of mind that can accompany small town living, the ruts you can get into where you won’t try a diner because it’s not your habit, or you won’t accept someone because they behave or look differently from you. It doesn’t have to be that way though. I hope that my children, whenever they arrive, will be able to sink their roots deep into this place and always have it to call home. I hope they can experience lazy summer days lying in hammocks and long hot evenings catching lightning bugs. But I also hope that they always keep their minds and hearts refreshed and renewed, that they stick to their faith in Jesus, and that they experience the great big world outside this place and all it has to offer.