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O God Help Me Be Foolish ENOUGH...

So…I just started a new job…

For those of you that read my blogs – the last one was about a church I had found – “The United Methodist Church/Community Development For All People.” After understanding more about the mission and vision of the church and attending one service – I looked up the job postings.

I started last MONDAY!!!

There are so many things I would like to say – but I am not sure how to put it all into words. (You KNOW I will try to find a way...Hahaha!)

I am actually working with the city/county/church/community development center to keep people from becoming homeless. There are so many agencies and people who care about the plight of those who have fallen on hard times. And I get to be a very small part of their recovery.

It is so interesting to note - I had this huge gut check while I was still a professor and was living in the home of my dreams (although a major fixer-upper) on a 2-acre lot. (see below)

At the time we were told that we would have to sell our home that we had just bought. Ken was fixing it up to sell. We were in the middle of COVID, political unrest, escalating home prices, etc... and I was seeing the effects of businesses ailing, people losing their homes, jobs, and hope. And, out of nowhere – a dear friend said excitedly, “The economy is booming!” I was stunned! His statement was true for a very small percentage of the whole world!!! His portfolio was robust and growing by leaps and bounds, but for those who are in the other at least 80% of the world there was disease, death, loss, and so much more.

The rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer, but no one was paying attention – well except for those who were finding it harder and harder to put a roof over their heads, put food on the table and buy necessities. I felt helpless to do anything that could avert others’ crises or even help in some small way.

It was also during this time – that we personally had been experiencing really difficult financial situations (as a result of yet a previous housing crisis that left us reeling) while having to make gargantuan life decisions mingled with grief, loss, sadness and trauma. And the housing crisis prevented would be homeowners from buying, while rent prices skyrocketed.

And now, I am working with and listening to precious people tell me their heartbreaking stories of greedy landlords who are continuing to jack up the prices of their rentals. And wages are not matching the demands. (As I write this – I am so grateful to our landlord – who has been so kind and gracious to us. For a while we had been preparing to live with Ken’s family. But the landlord knew Ken’s family situation and allowed us to live next door to be close. What a gift!)

(We moved in next door to Mom and Dad affording us the opportunity to spend time together watching the Buckeyes play! Yay!)

What is so mind boggling to me throughout all of this is the lack of “social capital” that people live with each day. They are on their own. They are alone. And, there is little that causes desperation as much as feeling completely isolated from the rest of the world. I hear it and see it every day. And my heart breaks. But, then…as I listen…something happens…

I get to be a part of their worlds. I get to listen. I get to be their cheering section as I apply for funds that might help them recover somewhat in these times that seem so dark and overwhelming to them.

I am working two jobs, and Ken is working full-time plus many hours of writing and reading in order to fulfill his clinical pastoral education hours, and we are also manning the phones and website for our small business Love More Less Fear. But, this is the kicker – we have the love of family and friends! And, we have each other! Many of the people I work with feel they have no one. But almost all of them have strong faith!!! It is sad and heartwarming all at once.

If I can be one person among MANY people at this church and community development center that can champion their efforts as they work 2, 3 and 4 jobs at a time in order to make ends meet – I GET to be there. I GET to pray with and for them. And I GET to be a part of the action that might mitigate the trauma of possible homelessness. The precious peace of this washes over me even as I write this.

When I walk into the church/community development center each day I walk past those who might have spent the night on the street. We greet one another and we smile. Sometimes there are lines of people waiting for the Free Store where they can find clothing and household items that have been donated for their care and provision. When I look across the street – the Fresh Market is giving fresh produce to over 300 people who would come to receive it 5 days out of the week. And one of our church members facilitates a meeting with many agencies across the city who are working together to learn this program that will triage the agony that so many are experiencing.

Those of you who are former students in my Fundamentals of Christian Ministry class – I am sure you remember the (somewhat painful) assignment that had you researching organizations you could possibly work together with that could be part of God’s Kingdom here on earth. We learned through the beautiful book by Henri Nouwen “Compassion” that we could put our compassionate hearts to work as we join together with others who had recognized need and became part of a bigger picture of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Will Be Done on Earth as in Heaven.” To become an answer to our own prayers as the hands and feet of God is transformative to EVERYONE!

Long ago – I found a prayer that I dared to pray. I will share it with you. But, be careful! You may(WILL) be called upon to live out this prayer as a service to God and neighbor. And it will be heart wrenching and life-giving all in the same breath.

I am beyond grateful for this experience. My job is temporary – we are not sure how long the funds will be available – but for now this is where I land. And there are just no ways to express the profound gratefulness that I feel as I share with you - my friends.

O God may I be just foolish enough in order that you could help me make a difference in this world - yes...and with tears that cause me to reach out...

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