Don’t get me wrong – being here has had its ups and downs, and I have both loved and hated the city whilst I’ve been here. But I can now say, that actually, I like Preston and am proud to call it my home!
I was going through old pictures on my Dropbox earlier today – I am one of these people who screenshots a lot of images with inspiring quotes on them and they automatically get uploaded to my Dropbox. I saw a quote that said “the grass is always greener where you water it”. For a long time I’ve seen Preston in all its dullness. The constant grey. The regular rain. How that all combines in the city leaving this depressing feel to it. But, today, walking to Morrisons on the docks this afternoon gave me time to reflect and think about this city I call home.
Three and a half weeks ago I moved into my eighth home since I’ve been in Preston, and this move brought me right back into the heart of the city.
Everything about living in a city should be daunting – we have an alarm in our house; you hear sirens at all hours on streets nearby; the crime rate is higher; just two weeks ago I was on the docks with a group of people from my church praying and some kids started throwing stones at us. You know, cities are the places where lots of stuff goes on that just doesn’t happen in the suburbs.
However, these things haven’t put me off. The alarm in the house is exciting to me because (I’m a dork) I’ve never had an alarm system in my home before. The sound of sirens reminds me that help is on the way rather than trouble occurring.
I grew up in the countryside. The city I visited most as I grew up was London. That was a city to me. The city I envisioned myself moving to once I’d got my degree.
When I moved to Preston I saw it as a stepping stone city. Having grown up in the country, I didn’t want to move straight to London as it was a huge step. I figured if I went to uni in a small city, the move to London then wouldn’t seem so big.
However, since I moved to Preston, a lot has changed! I came with dreams of becoming a fashion journalist in London after getting my degree. When I did finish my degree, I had no intention of working in fashion or journalism. I was attending church, I had been been baptised and given my life to Jesus, and I wanted to move to Vancouver but had no idea how or what I would do there so was happy to settle in Preston whilst I figured it out.
There’s something endearing about this city. The high rises that stand out above the city are churches. It’s name originated from Priest Town. It is a city on a hill.
There is significance in that. God is doing something here that cannot be silenced, avoided, or changed. Whether I am here and part of it, or viewing it from afar, that doesn’t matter. The fact is, is it’s happening, and I am so glad.
This city with all it’s dullness and depression is going to be a light. Where darkness is, light shines brighter.
I am excited to see how this city changes over the next few years. I really sense that God has made a way for the Church in Preston, and that the lamb, who was once standing in the city’s emblem, will be standing again.
Sometimes you just have to pause, reflect on where you are and what you’ve got, and appreciate it! Listen to God and hear what He is asking you to do. Maybe it’s move on to greener pastures, maybe it’s water the grass where you are.
My accent may never change, but my heart certainly has.
My favourite thing about this city, and what I will always cherish about it, is the person I have become since I moved here. Sure, that would’ve happened wherever I was, but it didn’t. It happened here – in Preston, and I am proud of that.