11 Things I Have Learned by Living Where I DoPosted: Thursday, January 23, 2014 Filed under: 2k14 | Tags: community, ministry, RVA, Southern Barton Heights, Urban Life Comments Off on 11 Things I Have Learned by Living Where I Do
Over the last few years, you have read about Louis, me, Southern Barton Heights and so much more! I recently spoke to a group of 50 women (and a few men, too) at WOVEN’s Hour to Empower Luncheon, and I felt led to share the impact the community has had on me. Here are 11 things I have learned! These are in no particular order, nor is it an all-inclusive list. My learning is ongoing….nonstop….like a firehose.
- I wouldn’t trade my life, my community for any other community in the world. I love my neighbors. I love the way my paradigms are being challenged and shifted. After Frank was shot, he asked me if I was moving. I went on to tell him – that people asked me that same question when the windows were shot out of my car and my car was stolen. “If I had moved, who would be there for you the night you were shot 9 times? All your friends ran. But, God loves you so much!” As a matter of fact, I recently told a friend – after driving south on 76 during 5pm traffic, “I’d rather have that bullet come through my front window every 6 years than deal with this traffic every night!” And…I meant it. Crazy, maybe. Honest though.
- It’s painful, but necessary, to learn the difficulties of the materially poor. Although I didn’t grow up in the ‘rich’ part of the West End, I have been made aware of how my privilege of education, race, and network provides me. The fact that Louis and I have 2 cars, when 60% of the city population has 1 or no car per household.
- I am reminded at any point, that if I have a tire blow out – I have money in savings. Even if I didn’t, I have multiple friends I can call that could loan me money. For many of my neighbors, everyone they know is also in the same situation. Generational poverty is impactful.
- I take for granted that I had a father and mother in my home. Now, my home life was far from perfect. None-the-less, my father was at home and provided for the family. Kids today are growing up in a fatherless society. So, girls and moms don’t even know what to look for and expect. Respect often has never been modeled.
- I have learned that it is not as simple as ‘pull yourselves up by your bootstraps’, but I’ve also learned that handouts create entitlement. (That statement should offend the Republicans and the Democrats equally. LOL)
- I have learned that the church – as an institution and a body of believers, in many cases, have left ‘loving your neighbor’ up to the government. And we can see that that’s not working out well for us right now. The church has outsourced ‘neighbor loving’ to the government and non-profits.
- I have learned that the materially poor inner-city people want the same things I do…that I would dare say most of us want. Safe, affordable shelter. Good schools. Reliable transportation. Steady employment with a living wage. We aren’t all that different. We are all have sinned. All have fallen short. And we all are made in God’s image. And that being materially poor takes great faith!
- As a bit of a type A personality, I have also learned to leave capacity in my schedule. I need to leave time in my calendar to say Yes to God. Louis and I are praying over our calendar more than ever before.
- As a group of women, I can also share that I have learned that having my house clean and in order is no longer a top priority. I would be exhausted if it were! With the sheer number of neighbors we have coming by along with 2 aging labs, Bella and Wesley, it’s impossible.
- I have learned that I don’t have the answers. Nothing is that simple. It’s actually quite complex. It’s vastly important to ask questions and to listen more than we talk. It’s more important to do things WITH the community not FOR or TO the community. Even though it will probably take much longer, it will be much longer lasting and sustainable.
- Prayer has become an integral part of my life. My passionate pursuit of God has become my #1 priority….well, most of the time. I try to anyway.
Why do you live where you live? What have you learned about yourself, God or your community recently?