Why I Still Live in California...and Have No Plans to Move Anytime Soon

Fifteen years ago my family moved from Gary, Indiana to southern California. It was shock, both financially and culturally.

I do not need to explain the sticker shock. I think most people know by now that California is one of the most expensive places in the nation. I do not need to explain the cultural shock. I think most people know by now that California is home to some of the most ridiculous and harmful political policies in the nation.

What a lot of people may not know is the condition of the community we came from. Gary has had the honor of trading off with cities like Chicago and Detroit for the highest per capita homicide rate over the last few decades. It is a depressed community, still suffering the effects of the collapse of the steel industry and ensuing horrific Democrat policy. Gun violence is a common occurrence. Crime is a part of daily life.

Still, we stayed in my husband’s hometown after we married and built a life there. We invested in the community, both with our time and our money. We mentored youth. We ran an after school program. We sponsored scholarships that helped local kids escape the failing public school system. It wasn’t the greatest place on earth, but it wasn’t the worst. It was home.

One day, our church welcomed in a traveling ministry, a family of four who worked with an international ministry to take faith-based plays to churches across North America. They traveled in an RV and depended on donations from the churches they visited to sustain them. They were very nice people from a very nice corner of Canada. They had quite obviously never been to a place like Gary.

They stayed for a few days, and we let them park their RV in the back church lot, which had a gated enclosure. We figured it was the safest place to let them park and we locked the gate each night before we left. The morning after their first night, we held a church breakfast for them, and I joined the husband and wife team at their table to chat about their evening.

“It was fine,” the husband began. “But we did hear gunshots a few times during the night.”

“Ohhhh…” I responded, sympathetically, a knowing look crossing my face. “Yeah, that happens.”

He burst into laughter. “Why does everyone keep responding that way when I tell them? Every single person we’ve told this morning has said the same thing!” He then playfully mimicked my “Ohhhhh…” and I explained to him that this was normal for a place like Gary. I told him not to worry, that most likely they were farther away than they sounded and often it was just irresponsible idiots goofing around.

He told me – and I’ll never forget this – “Oh, we’re not worried. We’re right where God has asked us to be, and I believe it is more dangerous to be in the nicest, safest city in the world outside of God’s will than to be in a dangerous city according to His will.”

This has become a guiding philosophy for me and my husband throughout our twenty-six years together.

I am constantly asked by conservatives why my family and I continue to reside in California, especially when I write so many scathing articles about California life. Jesse Kelly asks me almost every time I appear on his show these days. Our RedState readers ask me. People who interview me for their shows and podcasts ask me. It’s a near daily occurrence at this point.

Kira, why subject yourself to that insanity? Why don’t you just leave? It’s never going to change there!

I understand the questions. Life certainly is insane here. The politics are disgusting. Change does feel hopeless most of the time. I get why people ask.

Sometimes I tell people that our life is here, even if it’s not the greatest place for a life. Sometimes I remind people that I’m not the head of my household and I’m not empowered to make that decision all on my own for our whole family. Sometimes I tell people that my children have grown up here, and we are still getting the last one through high school. Sometimes I say that for all its crappy politics, California is still the most stunning region I’ve ever had the privilege of living.

Those explanations are all true, but they are all secondary. The real reason we are still here in California is because we believe this is where God wants us to be. We made the move originally for a job, but we did not make the decision without the confidence of faith. We felt very strongly God was leading us here. We feel very strongly God has not yet directed us out.

There were many times back in Gary when I felt frustrated and lonely. I sometimes wanted out, but God had other plans. I’m so glad I had the faith to abide by those plans, because my time there made me who I am today. There is an argument to be made that the career I have today was made possible by my experiences there. Gary is where I learned to love community. Gary is where I learned to love service. Gary is the town that turned me from default Democrat to staunch conservative. God knew what we needed. When our time was up there, He pointed the needle somewhere else, and we followed. I hope that will be the story of my life on my dying day.

Yes, California sucks…like, big time. I have many days when I wish we could be somewhere else, somewhere less stressful and more prosperous.

But God has not released us yet, and I would rather be in a crappy place but safe in His will than in a peaceful place and living outside His will. It’s safer with God, no matter where that is.

That might not be a very satisfactory explanation for some people, but it is the truth. We’re no saints, just God-fearing Americans who believe in purpose and Divine guidance.

California is my home for now…still. When God says it’s time to pack up and move, I’ll do so with gratefulness. Until then, I’ll just be over here hoarding plastic straws.



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