I was thinking about the different places people live and how at times we judge someone based on where they live.
I currently live in a planned community with a Homeowner's Association (HOA) and convenient access to the freeway. Where I would like to live is in a Mediterranean-style home with an inside courtyard in a quiet neighborhood with mature plants and clean, whispering air. Palm trees would be wonderful. We've had many opportunities to move but feel there is more "work" to be done where we are.
Driving home recently from an appointment, I got the impression once again there is more work to be done in the place where we live. I have no clue what work, but God has planted me here for some purpose to reach some person and do some thing.
The culture I live in seems obsessed with stories of people who change their lives dramatically by use of force or will or ingenuity. These are commendable feats, of course, because they give a glimmer of the capabilities of the human whole. But we sometimes compare any other type of effort to be flawed or weak or lesser than. Yes, there is something to be said for making things happen in your life. But there is also a power in releasing all control to heed the plan of the God who has the eagle's view.
A few years ago, my preschool-aged foster son was invited to a birthday party. The Saturday morning of the party came and we drove to a part of town I hadn't spent much time in before then. I looked for the address, driving up and down the street, confused by the commercial zone. And then we came upon a broken house. It was old and run-down, the roof, yard, walls, doors, garage, everything seemed in great disrepair.
"Someone lives here??" I thought. Or maybe I actually said it aloud.
The house number matched the one on the invitation so I pulled up the gravel driveway. My boy and I walked up to the door, me still wondering if truly this was the place. I was greeted by a very happy dad and the house was decorated in dinosaur-theme paper. Sho-nuff.
This was a very happy family, with a very happy celebration for their son's birthday. I stayed the whole time and did my best to avoid staring at the cracked walls. I remember the dining room had been converted into a bedroom; I had to walk through it to find the bathroom. I marveled at this rundown home in the middle of a city that was known for beautiful neighborhoods. I had never driven through this area and noticed this old house before.
Why did the family live here? How does a family end up here?
Partway through the party, I remembered that because of my son's "foster child" status, he was attending a pre-school normally attended by children in poverty. I suddenly felt like I had to stay undercover so as not to embarrass anyone. Of course, I didn't have to, but I suddenly felt like I did not belong there and didn't want anyone to discover that. I wondered how many of the other kids present lived in homes similar to this one.
Interestingly, I know there are people who feel a similar sense of confusion and sympathy about where I live, finding something about it undesirable: its proximity to shopping and the interstate, its small lots, its community bylaws and policies. But I know it is where my husband and I were called to move and it is where we still feel called to serve. We certainly are not the only ones who get these types promptings, but I forget that sometimes. The family in the old cracked house likely had a similar personal experience to move to a place in the middle of a commercial zone.
About a month ago, I drove through that area on my way home from a restaurant. The house had been demolished and cleared off that space of land. I wonder where the family went and if they are now in a better position. Of course, that is my ego speaking. They are wherever it is that God has work for them to do.