You've probably heard it before- you know, the thing about people in the midwest being "so nice". I know...what the heck does that even mean? Like, you can take a bunch of people connected only by their geographical location and label them all as "nice"? And who decides what "nice" is? And honestly, "nice" is a lame word anyway. It doesn't really tell you anything about anything. When we moved here I had heard all these things, just like you have, but still had no expectations whatsoever. I had, after all, met plenty of "nice" people all over the place in my life.
What I came to know in a very short time is that "nice" here in beautiful southwest Michigan doesn't mean saying only sweet things in a sugary tone, or nodding at one another with a serene smile. Thank God. 'Cause if you know me you know I wouldn't fit in very well in a "nice" place like that. On the contrary, there's a lot of good-natured teasing, and unexpected goof-balling. As in, there is rarely a serious moment 'round these parts at all (hallelujah!). Instead, what the "nice" people of Michigan are is amazingly, unabashedly, literally-give-you-their-coat-and-let-you-eat-their-last-piece-of-bread generous and tell-you-where-to-go-and-who-to-talk-to-and how-to-do-it-if-you-feel-like-doing-it-yourself-and-even-offer-to-come-and-do-it-for-you helpful. They are the kind of nice that makes your life easier. The kind of nice that lets you breathe a sigh of relief. The kind of nice that makes me want to be the kind of nice that makes your life easier, too.
Remember Jesus in the polyester shorts? The day we were unpacking our belongings from our pods into our unusable house, he suddenly appeared- unloading boxes, wheeling the dolly, jogging back to his house to retrieve his hand cart. It was the hottest week of the entire summer, he is at least 65 years old, and he had just met us the day before, yet there he was, just doing it. Of his own accord, and with a smile. There was also the down-the-road neighbor who lent us his van. Or our around-the-corner neighbor who took us on an impromptu hay-ride in the fall followed by a mini horseback-riding lesson for our kids. People lending us things and giving us things and wondering when we're going to demolish insert-ridiculous-part-of-house-here so that they can come and help, because they know how hard it is with the kids underfoot. "You've got the house, we'll bring the beer."