Carpe Urbem!

“Wow, you sure do get out!” one of my local friends commented on a Facebook status. “In seven years, we haven’t done as much as you have in seven months.”

Sure, I’d pretty much scoured at least half of the metro Atlanta area. We’d been to the Georgia Aquarium, the Center for Puppetry Arts, the CNN Center, Centennial Park, the Atlanta Zoo, the Atlanta History Center, and The Varsity, to name just a few of our stops.

While my out-and-aboutness may seem adventurous to some, for me, the exploration feels normal. But then, maybe I’m a glutton for punishment; sometimes I drag a double stroller places it was never intended to go.

The things is, after living in four states in two years — and yes, having four difference driver’s licenses pictures — I’ve learned to carpe urbem. You know, “seize the city.” I’ve figured out ways to make the most of the places, as Dr. Seuss would say, I’ll go.

You see, by the second move, I’d determined that from making friends to taking in the sights, I never wanted to look back and think, “I really wish I would have…” I wanted to live with no regrets in the event I had to face another Penske moving van.

What about you? Do you simply live somewhere or do you carpe urbem?

In John 10:10 Jesus says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Maybe seizing one’s city (or town, or rural neighborhood) is one key to living life abundantly. Even though our locations may seem random sometimes, God has you and me where we are for a reason. I think that what 20th-century newspaper man G.K. Chesterton spoke of when he addressed contentment fits well here. He wrote:

Being content with an attic ought not to mean being unable to move from it and resigned to living in it; it ought to mean appreciating all there is in such a position.

So whether you’ve lived where you are for a few weeks or several years, like me, you can probably do better at “appreciating all there is in such a position.” Here are some ways I’ve put this into practice.

Get Out

First, I simply get out. Get out of my house. Get out of my comfort zone. While it’s good to exercise wisdom – there are parts of Atlanta I know better than to venture to on my own – I don’t let fear keep me from exploring a new part of the city. I discovered the church we now call home when I passed it one day. I also noticed a state park near us, which we went on to discover had lakes, free summer bluegrass concerts, and lots of scenic walking paths … on a drive.

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Ashleigh Slater is the author of the books, Braving Sorrow Together: The Transformative Power of Faith and Community When Life is Hard and Team Us: The Unifying Power of Grace, Commitment, and Cooperation in Marriage. She loves to combine the power of a good story with practical application to encourage and inspire readers.