Hate can turn to love.
Even hate for a place.
Maybe especially hate for a place.
I moved to Tempe a little over 5 years ago, and it took 9 months for it to sink in that I was really living there. I argued with God for months before I went, spent a good chunk of time in denial, and knew that it was far too hot and brown for human life. After all, my first and foremost argument against going to ASU was that Arizona is too hot!
By the time I left, a miracle had happened. I loved it- mostly the people, but also the uniquenesses of the place. I loved the orange blossoms in March, flip flops nearly year round, swimming outside in January, even the brown Superstitions as I drove out to Candi and Shawn’s house. I loved hiking slot canyons, bouldering, rappelling, and biking to school all year. I loved cactus flowers. That doesn’t mean that I loved the 115 degree days and the gallons of sweat that they bring; it means that there were hundreds of nicer days, too.
It was one of those life lessons that had to be learned by experience, and I do believe that it is an important one. I’ve heard that to really reach out to an area, you must really love it. There’s something about personal concern for and investment in a community as a whole that helps love from becoming just a job. Sometimes and in some places, the concern and investment take more grace than others. I don’t suppose that makes them less necessary or important.
And as I learned, there’s beauty to be found everywhere- even in the middle of the desert! The Creator’s fingerprints are evident in people everywhere and in every place, too.