The Regeneration interns and I are wrapping up our year here at church. What have I learned?
This was the year I stopped romanticizing urban ministry.
I honestly came in with the idea that I was going to be really warmhearted and be an amazing rescuer and friend of the poor who could really see peoples’ humanity past their issues. Instead, I found myself bitter at a lot of folks. R, who was doing great in his alcohol recovery, stole from us. We banned M from sleeping on our porch steps because her sharp urine scent was too much. P sleeps in the bushes, but occasionally defecates in the lot. I learned to dread the sound of the doorbell, which meant inconveniencing me to run up and answer the door and heat up some food. I hated being inconvenienced.
I learned that the poor despise the rich with the lens of entitlement, and the rich despise the poor with a lens of laziness and deservedness. I now see the complex web of power structures, decadeslong injustices, and people that give up in the face of overwhelming difficulty. I wrestle a lot with a desire to escape and turn my back. I hesitate to press in. I know now, ever more than ever, that we both need Jesus to humble us and equalize us.
This was a year of community
Take our recent baptism from a couple of months ago. R*, an African-American member who has wrestled with a long history of alcoholism and other issues, was prayed over by P, an older white man, S, a hapa young professional, and Betty, a wheelchair-bound white lady. I looked at the picture and wondered what can explain this except the Gospel?
Or the time that Eric engineered a sled so that we could take Betty, wheelchair and all, down to Ocean Beach for a bonfire. What can explain that?
Or the times that we hit up In-n-Out at random times in the middle of the night, or did a monthly San Tung run, or chowed on Yummy Guide after a Betty dropoff. I’m going to remember running trails with Nate, or swimming with Eric and Justin. And there was that one time that Eric did my chores for me while I worked on some programming project because he saw I was stressed. <3.
This was a year of slowing down
I realized that I live from task to task and thrive on stress. I need to stop this. I know this because I feel really antsy if I go the whole day without knocking anything out from my todo list. I will literally feel like exploding.
We live in a world of to-do lists and Getting Things Done. I am learning to stop, chat, laugh, and listen.
This was a year of humility.
I never liked doing my cleaning chores, or being asked to do something that was really inconvenient to my schedule. But those service times were pretty sweet if I had the right attitude. I will say that I got a lot of sermons knocked out while scrubbing toilets.
This was a year of getting better at people things
…and not be so clueless with friendships and relationships ‘n stuff.
This was a year of recentering
And in the end, I want Jesus’ reality more than ever. I’m learning that God’s a good dad, and I can trust him.