I was seventeen years old when I packed up my family’s car and moved from Florida to Virginia. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I hugged my family goodbye as they left me in Lynchburg and started their 12-hour car ride back home. It was a mix of fear and excitement but mostly fear. It was time to make Lynchburg a temporary home away from home. What my seventeen-year-old self didn’t know is that six years later, I would live in Lynchburg permanently and have a full-time job. That idea would have terrified seventeen year old me!
My move from Florida to Lynchburg was the most challenging transition of my life, but also the most rewarding. I grew up in the same church my entire life, was the youth pastor’s kid—and if I’m being honest—I was excited to go to church and just blend in. When I first came to Brentwood, I sat in the back of the congregation and even snuck out early to beat the crowd (sorry, Pastor Jon). After a season of being the sneaky college kid in the back row, I started to wonder why I felt so unseen and so hidden. Lynchburg wasn’t home, and I felt like it would never be. I wanted to be in Florida with my family—my real home.
This might be exactly where you are. Maybe you’re fresh into living in a new city and creating a new life, and you don’t know where to begin. You might be a year or two into living in Lynchburg and you’re ready to change it from “Where you live for part of the year” to “home.” I’ve been there, and I want to share how the Lord helped me make this city feel like home.
1. Get plugged into a community group
I joined my first community group at Brentwood in the summer of 2016, which was the first summer I spent in Virginia, and I was 100% terrified. However, in spite of my fear, this was when my life began to change here in Lynchburg. The group leaders took me into their house group and just loved me. They took the time to get to know who I was and made it a point to make sure I felt like I was home that summer. During that time, the fact that I was known by a community and church became a huge reason why Lynchburg felt more like home—I had another family away from my family. I had a couch to sit on when I felt alone, and a home I could feel comfortable at. If you want to get connected to community, it’s super easy! Just go here!
2. Begin to serve
When I got plugged in through serving at Brentwood, it was a gamechanger. Joining a serving team got me connected to people who lived in the same city I did! I’ve served in a variety of roles at Brentwood, and each team has introduced me to friends that would check in on me when I felt lonely and spend time with me when I needed encouragement. Because I had such an incredible experience in community groups and they played such a huge role getting me connected to Brentwood, right now I serve on the Community Groups team. I wanted to extend the feeling of “home” to college students who wrestle with the same loneliness I experienced. No matter where you serve, when you join a team, people at Brentwood will no longer be just “anonymous people” they’ll be your people. If you know that serving is your next step, click on this link to get started!
3. Explore the city around you
The first summer I lived in Lynchburg, my roommate and I made a bucket list. She had lived in Virginia for a few years, and this had helped her make the area feel like home. We filled a sheet of paper with different activities I had never done before and things I could do in Virginia that I couldn’t do in Florida (for example: hike a mountain). Every weekend, we’d complete different items on the list and it made living in Virginia personal. If you feel like Lynchburg is just “the place where I spend part of the year” go explore the city God has put you in for this season! You can’t make Lynchburg “home” if you stay at home! Go see and do things you’ve never seen before and try something new! If you’re new to Lynchburg and don’t know where to start, ask someone in your community group or on your serving team where they love to go, or check out this website. (Not affiliated with Brentwood)
One final thought: If you live in Lynchburg, it’s the city God has called you to make “home” for this season, however long that is. He’s called you here to grow, create memories, build His Kingdom, tell stories, and explore all He’s created. Be obedient in that!