Sometimes it’s hard

This weekend left me a bit reflective, so this blog post will probably be a bit different than most. I spent quite of time downtown this weekend. And for someone who grew up in the suburbs, I must admit I have come to love living in an urban environment. I love the diversity of people and options the city has to offer.

At the same time, there are moments when it’s simply hard to live in the city. The noise, the pollution, the traffic. But, even more than that, in the city there is no hiding from some of the cruel realities of life – inequality, poverty, addiction, exploitation, etc. This weekend as I was downtown my heart broke again as I saw young men doing drugs on the sidewalk along a busy street, as I saw an elderly homeless women laying on the sidewalk outside of a convenience store, and as I saw young women working as prostitutes with men swarming around them. This was all in a span of a hour. And it was heart-breaking. It was heart-breaking and frustrating as the situations seem so overwhelming at times. It was heart-breaking as I wondered what my sons, who were with me, were seeing and what questions it would provoke in them as they get older. It made me cry inwardly, “Come Lord Jesus.”

And at the same time, it made me whisper a prayer of thanks for those people, churches, organizations that are invested in transforming the lives of people in the city. I am forever grateful for New Community Covenant Church in Chicago, which seeks to be a city within a city, an alternate Chicago that lives out the values of the Kingdom of God while seeking the Shalom of their community. I’m thankful for people like Liz and Daniel, who invest in people’s lives and take on big issues like equitable housing. I’m thankful for the churches and schools in Colombia who are investing in the lives of people, restoring families, helping people recover from addictions, training and employing women who have left a life of prostitution. For Juan who greets us every Sunday with a smile and who has gone from being homeless to living with dignity, surrounded by the love of the church community.

So, yes, sometimes it’s hard to live in the city. And yes the problems are big. But, I know God has called us to live out shalom in those places that are the most broken and hurting. I think of God’s call to the people of Israel living in exile in Babylon, to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7) I think of Jesus proclaiming the good news and healing people who were sick and showing compassion to those who suffered. (Matthew 9:35-39) And I ask for strength to be the hands and feet of Jesus here in the city.

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1 thought on “Sometimes it’s hard

  1. Hang in there Katie…you’re not alone…and it’s hard here too, in the rural world that feels like Mars sometimes to a city kid…where homeless turns into ‘displaced,’ where the exploiters are people whose racist and judgmental opinions leak down all over their children, and where it’s hard to find healing because people can’t see how God could possibly transform their lives…we’ll be praying…and keep us in prayer too.

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