From the speed bumps to the hair, everything is truly on a larger scale in Texas. We have all heard that saying countless times and we have also all rolled our eyes as the those proud Texas natives in our lives say this so confidentially. Having just returned from my fifth trip to the Dallas area, I am becoming very familiar and somewhat comfortable (minus the traffic and other nuances that come with a large metropolis) with the city. Besides the monstrous malls on every street corner, buildings taller than all of downtown Des Moines combined, and churches with members exceeding 10,000 plus individuals; the one intangible thing that I have found to be overflowing and abundant is Texas people’s hearts.
The term, Southern Hospitality is no joke down there. Having spent my entire life in essentially a vertical line throughout the Midwest [Des Moines, Iowa to Mankato, Minnesota back to Des Moines, and down to Columbia, Missouri], I thought Midwesterners were the nicest people in America. I thought that because of the simplicity of life, appreciation for the changing seasons & even brutally cold winters, and a strong emphasis on family and values, that we were the most genuine and down to earth as they come. Although I am extremely proud of my roots and have seen some validity to “Minnesota Nice,” I have to admit that every time I have been in Texas, I feel so much warmth (literally and figuratively speaking) from the people I meet.
If you were to merely judge based on appearance and without communicating or spending any time with Texans, your opinion may look something like mine did. I used to think that Texas people are entitled, materialistic, stuck in their ways, and attended church solely because they live in the Bible belt and it is just what everyone does there. Wow, I may have offended a handful of people with my ignorant and completely false stereotype that for a long time I had, so I apologize. I will also follow that up by saying I am so thankful that I have, and am still coming out of this Midwest umbrella so to speak, that I have lived under my whole life. Without having traveled internationally or even spent time on either coast, I can honestly say that I am not well cultured at all and my safety net is most definitely the Midwest. What I have learned however is that this perspective and ignorance to other regions of the United States and World hinders my ability to learn, grow, and impact others. Texas and the people of Texas have opened my eyes to so much.
There are good and bad people in every city, so for me to make this bold, blanket statement about how amazing every single Texas person is, may be a little far-fetched. However, I can honestly say that the people I have met during my visits down there have all been so sincere, welcoming, and honest when communicating with me for the first time. I have never left a conversation with somebody thinking they were sketchy or wondering where their heart was at. Their heart was wide-open and so real. Talk about transparency. There is so much depth, love, and emotion to these people. I think for so long I got wrapped up in the materialism which surrounds Dallas and it consumed my thoughts and judgments.
To these people, I am afraid I am the cold-hearted one. Because it takes me a little bit longer to open up, express my emotions so candidly, and become comfortable with their openness, I look like the insincere person from the Midwest. Even though to me, my heart is in the right place and I genuinely care for people, it may not appear that way at first glance when meeting me. So to all of the sweet Texas people who welcomed me so graciously, I thank you. I have learned the importance and value of being 100% real with people. I see how much deeper friendships, and family dynamics are as a result of this transparency and I strive to get there.
Who knows where God will take me next on my journey here on Earth. But what I do know is that He is working in my heart and preparing me for that next step. The only way to quality relationships is honesty paired with the absence of judgment. My challenge for you all is the same challenge for myself and that is to accept that you are not perfect, shed those secondary identities that drive us all in the wrong direction, and be the authentic individual God put you on this Earth to be. The only way other people are going to trust you and be willing to open up is if they see you doing the same thing. If this does not come naturally to you, I feel your pain. But what better time to start than now?
I hope you all have such a fulfilling and rewarding week. Mine is starting off with a full-blown sinus infection which isn’t awesome, but I’ll survive. God is good and I am so thankful he is constantly working in my heart.
Let your light shine!
Here are some pictures from this weekend’s adventures!