I feel like todays post needs a disclaimer so here it goes: So I do realize that this blog might offend someone, but I also realize this is my blog and my platform of sorts to share my heart, opinions concerns and experiences, and sometimes those thoughts might offend someone, however I do hope you’ll read this blog with an open mind knowing where my heart is.
Sometimes I don’t think people think before they speak, a few weeks ago a group of people from mostly affluent white communities (there were two young men from a local church in our neighborhood who were here for the project) flooded our block to do a community service project. Well immediately one of the guys introduced himself to me and asked where I was from, I with a huge smile on my face pointed to my front door and said, “Right there actually…” to which he looked at me, laughed and said, “A young white girl living in the ghetto, have you lost your mind? Why in the world would you want to live here?” I looked at him slightly offended and told him how much I loved living here and why wouldn’t I want to live here?
I do realize that not everyone has been given the heart I have to live in a community that most people consider the “ghetto”, desolate, crime ridden and gross… and yes someone that day used the term gross to describe my home. This is not just a neighborhood, I didn’t move here because I feel sorry and want to fix the world, I didn’t move here to be a pioneer (which is a term that gets thrown in my face a lot here) I moved here because this is MY HOME, this is the place I love, this is where I’ve been called to live and serve, this is where I find hope, love, joy and faith. This is where my heart explodes with excitement and joy. This is the place where I have found unconditional love with no boundaries that works both ways, this is where I have coffee with a drug dealer who wants to change his life, this is where I friend a single mom who just needs an adult to converse with, this is the place where I serve snacks out my kitchen window, this is the place where I lay in bed at night and listen to laughter, arguing and drug deals take place outside my front door, but this is home.
As the conversation continued with my new “friend” I asked him if he felt that my home was such a horrible place, why on earth was he here? He proceeded to inform me that he need the community service hours for school, and that he was going to come, do the project leave and hope that he NEVER had to come back. By this point in our conversation I am infuriated, and wondering how many of these other people where there for a community service project?
Aside from this conversation, I was extremely put off that these workers did not speak to my neighbors, didn’t not allow them to help when they offered, and they called in a police escort because they were concerned for their safety. I hate to break it to you, but you were probably safer on my block then you are at the Inner Harbor these days. While I am not naive to the things that happen within my community, I also know that there was no need for a police escort. What kind of message is this sending to my dear friends, neighbors and the people I consider part of my family.
Well friend, I hate to break it to you, my home is not a community service project, the people that I live among and experience life with they are NOT to be treated as a project. They are real people, who live life just as you and I do, some of them have been given some unfortunate circumstances, some of them have made some choices that probably aren’t the best, some of them are lost waiting to be found, but just as YOU and I are, they are humans, they desire to be treated with the same kind of love and care that you and I do!
If the truth be told there is something to be said about being a white girl in the hood… I never feel unsafe in fact I have acquired many “big brothers” that look out for me, they question where I am going when it’s night time, when I will be back and there is almost every time one of them waiting for me to come home before they go in for the night, I am cared for when I am sick, hurt, or need anything. I have the best set of adopted grandparents in the whole world, who remind me to pray every night before bed, every time someone walks by me whether it’s the boy pushing the drugs on the corner, a mom and her kids or someone just out for a walk they acknowledge that I am here and more times than not they stop and have a conversation with me. I feel more loved in this community than I have felt in my entire life…
This is my heart and my passion, I am not here to pioneer the neighborhood and change the environment of my friends and neighbors around them, I am here to love them unconditionally through the good, bad and the ugly, I am here to share the Good News of Jesus with them, and help them see how valuable a relationship with Christ is. I am here to help equip them to be successful, to make their environment a better place for them. I am here to be 10 minutes late to a meeting because someone wants to share their life with me, I am here to tell the kids every intimate detail of my life, and why I do the things I do, I am here to give my last dollar to the ice cream truck worker so the kids can have ice cream, I am here to love love and love, I am here to do projects WITH my neighbors not for them.
The next time I am asked to participate in a community service project, I will either politely decline or I will ask lots and lots of questions and I will make sure that my neighbors are invited and welcome to participate, I will rally for them to be treated the way they deserve to be treated in their homes. I am reminded of this verse in Matthew, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets,” (ESV, Matthew 22:36-40), it is a commandment to love others…and this white girl in the hood who might be ridiculed, laughed at and treated differently because of the choice she’s made to live here plans to continue to follow the path that God continues to lay for her here in the middle of the ghetto!