Becoming Local

It is hard to act like a local when you first arrive in a new place. Ten years ago, after just moving to the Outer Banks from the Atlanta area, I took on the task of trying to blend into the culture. Part of it was that teenage desire to just fit in; part was an effort to make myself approachable to people in this new community. It was a bit of a learning curve for me. My stiletto heels were replaced with flip flops, my skirts got packed away to make room in my drawers for capris, and I actually allowed myself to order a glass of wine in a restaurant instead of pretending I don’t drink wine, like I did in Georgia for twenty years. There were downsides and upsides to this becoming a local thing!

One custom that seemed strange to me is that locals drop their flip flops at the entrance to the beach access in order to walk on the sand. Walking barefoot in the sand is much easier than flipping sand up the back of your legs, so that part I understood. But having been raised in suburban New Jersey by a father that was extremely paranoid that everything we owned was fodder for thieves, I was uncomfortable leaving my dollar store flip flops by the dune fence and actually walking away from them. I said to my local walking companion, “Are you sure they’ll still be here when we get back?” And she flat out laughed at me. She picked up my oversized pink flip flop with the dog teeth marks in them from when my lab was a puppy and chewed EVERYTHING, and said, “Who would want these?” Still, I was prepared to drive home barefooted.

Last month I was stuck in a beach rental while septic repairs were taking an epically long time to complete. (we’ll talk about “island time” another day, but suffice it to say that if a worker says a job will take 3 days he means 3 weeks). The upside was that I got to walk my dog on the beach every morning, leaving my flip flops at the dune fence like all good locals do.

Now these flip flops are quite a treasure. My husband brought them home from a trip to Brazil. An airport station manager gave them to him as a gift of friendship. They are green and yellow, and have the Brazilian flag on the side. I like them because my husband, who is an airline pilot, makes friends all over the world, and this man was celebrating his friendship with him with this treasured pair of flip flops with his country’s flag.

I left the beach house to attend a 3 day seminar in Atlanta, so on the day I returned, I looked all over the cottage for my flip flops so we could walk across the street to the beach. No flip flops. I knew the dog sitter would not have used them, I knew I hadn’t packed them, (one would NEVER wear green and yellow flip flops in ATL!) so I looked everywhere in the cottage and the car. Finally it dawned on me that 5 days earlier I had walked the beach with Georgia, and they might still be there.

And they were. I am sure my Dad (in heaven) was surprised that nobody had stolen them, but my Father in Heaven was not. Had I left a diamond necklace there, it would have been gone, but nobody would treasure that old pair of flip flops the way I do.

Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I treasure these unattractive green and yellow flip flops because they remind me of what a great guy I married. Others passed them by because 1. They are green and yellow and 2. Local culture respects each other’s property, at least each other’s flip flops left at the dune fence, and 3. Did I mention they are green and yellow?

What do you treasure? Think about how you spend your time, your attention and your money. If you say you treasure God, your family, and your relationships but spend most of your time on your electronics or binge watching Game of Thrones, your treasure and your heart don’t match up with your priorities. Priorities and how we actually spend our time starkly reveals what we really treasure. But priorities can change.

Today is a new day to realign your priorities with what you really treasure. Matching treasures, heart and TIME is a way to find real peace. Are you out of balance? Put the phone/iPad/laptop down, and go fix it. Every day is a new day to get it right.

Photo by Shannon Blosser.

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