Thanks to reality TV, Hollywood movies, and Taylor Swift music videos, city folks have come to some conclusions about what living in “The South” is like. When you think about living in Texas, Louisiana or Tennessee, you picture open ranges filled with cattle, ten-gallon cowboy hats, thick accents, and giant steak dinners. As a big city native, I had prepared myself to be immersed in an abundance of denim, flannel, cowboy boots, and sweet tea. However, after four months of Nashville living, I finally understand the draw of Southern Charm.
I was a bit judgmental going into the big move with a strong distaste for anything “country,” like its music, fashion, and even some activities. I was set on stirring things up with my west coast attitude, urban appearance and sass. Upon arriving, my understanding of country living was completely thwarted. While camping, line dancing, hunting and camo are huge aspects of life down here, there is so much more to this part of the country than what’s on the surface.
There is a beautiful sense of community and unity among the people. They join together in celebration and praise of all the things that make Nashville, Nashville. There is never a moment in the day when someone isn’t speaking highly of what the state has to offer. They are so proud to be a Nashvillian that they wear their love on their sleeve. You see huge groups of people who have never met sitting around and enjoying the music, the food, the culture, and the joys of simple living.
When you bustle around the city streets of a big town, you see blank stares and crowds of people rushing to get to places, frustrated if someone in front of them doesn’t understand their urgency. But take a stroll down the streets of country towns and you see smiles, waves, and happy glances exchanged between strangers who are in no rush because they are enjoying each moment that has been given to them.
Nashville has become a refuge for those who are seeking more in life spiritually, financially, and personally. Dreamers and believers congregate in this town and find respite in its arms. Success and happiness seem closer and more possible inside the borders of the state. I am one of those dreamers who came to this city to find more opportunities to better my career and grow in my faith so I state this with first hand knowledge.
As I reflect on my original thoughts on country-living, and compare that to the beauty of reality, I realized this place is a living representation of the church: joyful, loving, accepting, comforting, encouraging, unifying, diverse, and filled with family.
So think what you will of the “dirty south” with its broken English, fried food, and mud-covered shoes, because, to me, it will always represent what God wanted the church to look like. No matter my journey in the future, I pray that I carry the spirit of Nashville to every corner of the world, and be the church outside of the four walls of the building I sit in every Sunday morning.