why am i doing this?
the landscape outside my car window shifts from long forgotten duplexes with their tell-tale green boards and corner stores, to abandoned shopping malls and tiny cookie-cutter box shaped homes, and finally to open fields and cornstalks.
it’s a long drive to the suburbs.
thirty minutes due north through the concrete to the cornfields.
i think about how God often drew God’s people into the wilderness to whisper to their hearts…or to smack them upside the head. i can’t help but feel i’m being dragged into my own wilderness.
“i feel like a square peg.” i bemoaned via email to my mentor. call me a glutton for punishment, but i seem to make a habit of surrounding myself with people who have little to nothing in common with me.
i live in a predominately african-american neighborhood.
i work in an upper class, predominately white community.
and now, here i am, driving half an hour out to sit in fellowship with stay-at-home mom’s from the suburbs.
my comfort zone is pretty broad, but this, this is far outside it.
why am i doing this?!
i stop at the next intersection and will myself to continue through the stop sign rather than turn around and drive back home. homogeneity is dangerous, i know this. but how much water do i have to whisk into my oil?
Jesus drew into his inner circle everyone from fishermen to tax collectors. paul boldly declared that all are one in Christ and distinctions no longer matter. it seems it’s easier to read about heterogeneous community than to live it.
i am an anomaly. a side-show. that “interesting” person. their eyes dart from mine, not knowing what to say.
“i’m not going back,” i declared firmly to Ben.
“really? what happened to trying to make your social circle less homogeneous?”
i love that my husband calls BS on me, i really do. except when i really want to get by with it.
“well…i just don’t fit in and people don’t really like me and i don’t think it’s going to do anyone any good.”
he’s not buying. i keep talking.
“and besides, i was in that car wreck earlier this week” (truth, not BS) “and not a single person has called to check on me.”
“Meg, that’s ridiculous. you’ve met these women twice. i wouldn’t call you if i were them, that’s awkward.”
i shift uncomfortably.
“i just want…out.”
in my mailbox two days later is a beautiful card emblazoned with nearly a dozen signatures. i recognize two of the names. i stand corrected. and humbled. it’s the only non-digital check up i’ve received.
i try to think back. try to remember. my story goes that i didn’t have any friends who were outside the church until i was 16. in college i only hung out with people of my same theological and political persuasion. except…when i was at the community center i got sucked in to serving at.
something incredible happened while i was there, working among those who were different from me in race, socioeconomic status, political persuasion, without religious background. my faith wasn’t abolished or even threatened as i had been so warned in my fundamentalist church growing up. rather, in the faces of those who looked in no way like me, i found that God got bigger.
i see Jesus in the faces of the homeless, the fatherless, and the ones society has cast out.
the Holy Spirit speaks through the flowers in the field and through the ancient saints.
God reveals Godself through aztec dances, augustine’s theologies, hipster documentaries, and through little girls rescued from indian brothels.
this is what heterogeneous community does.
it reminds us that Jesus was not a white, middle-class republican.
it calls to mind that God is beyond labels, genders, and anything within our understanding.
and perhaps, there is a piece yet to be revealed in the suburban stay-at-home mom.
and so, i go.