Thursday, September 24, 2009

What I'm Learning: Community

I've been cleaning up my Google documents and ran across something I wrote about two years ago and wanted to share part of it. It's a lesson that has been reinforced by my friendships in Chattanooga and as I've learned to give others the opportunity to serve me instead of always being too prideful to be anything other than self-reliant. Here's an excerpt of what I wrote during my time at Preston Taylor Ministries:

I am learning to depend on Christ in a way that I didn't think I needed to before--after all, it was easier in a middle class lifestyle with a safe home, generous pay check, and established routine to not depend on Him as much, feeling pretty self-sufficient. It's funny how a $400 a month paycheck, new environment and church home, and job in the 'hood made me remember very quickly who I need to depend on on a hourly basis.

Through this experience, I am learning how much I need others....their prayers, understanding, and love. I have been so humbled and blessed by an outpouring of encouragement, love, and support over the last few months; it feels very special to be a part of this community of believers.

I am learning what community really looks like as I watch two single moms combine forces and live together in order to just get by; or a single mom of three children take on two more upon their mother's death; or my new church family host nine homeless people every Wednesday night throughout the winter with people taking the time to really love and know the these individuals.

And I've realized how different this type of service in community is than just handing over a used coat or money--while handing over a coat is satisfying and helpful, it doesn't give us the opportunity to be transformed by Christ through those we are serving. In order to be transformed by Christ and in His image we desperately need community and relationships. Our creator made us for both.

In addition to increased prayer and reliance on Christ, I am seeing Him in the most unexpected places and people.

One example is Rick, one of the drug dealers who hangs out on our street. A few weeks ago a staff member's husband came to get something out of the building for her late at night. Rick confronted him, with a hand gun and all, wanting him to identify himself and explain why he was on Preston Taylor Ministries' property. Sure the husband was afraid and Rick's means might not be ideal, but Rick's immediate presence helped explain why our building has never been broken into, covered with graffiti, or otherwise messed with.

And if God can provide protection for His work and His kingdom through a gun toting drug dealer and redeem his actions, then surely He can use us for His kingdom too.

p.s. I'm grateful for friends like Chasie who encourage me to do wild and crazy things like try long layers instead of just getting my usual trim :) And so grateful for my friend Casey's wedding (and marriage) on Saturday.


ella said...

How does the new haircut look? I want to see pictures!

Ys said...

I love to hear your talk(write) about your relationship with God. It's so refreshing to hear it spoken about as a day-to-day, personal experience. It always makes me smile :)

L.C.T. said...

Well said :)

HappyascanB said...

Love the post. . . . I always need to be reminded to rely more on God. I'm with Ella ~ post pics of the long layers!!!

OK Chick said...

Such a good post. I really enjoyed reading the story about Rick. I'm glad you found this old post and shared.

TC said...

Do we get a post about your trip out west? :)

$400 a montH!?!?!?!?!?!?! Wow. I don't think I knew that was even possible anymore. Anywhere in the US.

Ally said...

Ella: I'm never sure what I really think about a haircut until a few days later, but I'm sure I'll like it fine. At this point (after she straightened and put in product) it doesn't look much different to me. I'll aim for some photos at Casey's wedding tomorrow night.

Ys: Your comment made me smile. Thank you. It's definitely a daily (and sometimes hourly or minute to minute) conversation with Him:)

LCT: Thanks.

B: I'll work on it. And maybe I can get permission to post a photo of Clay too!

Ok Chick: Rick really made an impression on me. I'm glad to share.

TC: Yes! I'll post on that soon. As for the $400/month, our living space (the "toolshed") and utilities were provided. And various people helped me along the mom paid my car insurance that year; my dad gave me gas money when I came home; my father's church gave me a check at Christmas; a coworker took me out to lunch, and so on. God provided incredibly (as usual).

Christina said...

Ally, it's wonderful that you expressed something it's easy to forget -- that we have to give other people opportunities to serve us. Without that element, our growth and the growth of the community is stunted.

Thank you for sharing the reminder. :-)

Anonymous said...

You told me that a men's group from your Dad's church sent you $50 a month to help out.From what person did you get your frugality ????????? Just curious. Please no details. Dr. RJJ.

Mamacita said...

Very Encouraging! Thanks.

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