Intentional Living – Even In The Suburbs
I recently volunteered at our school’s festival. Complete with vendors, games, food and auction, it was sure to raise money for our already impressive school. I love our school. The administration is strong. The teacher’s have been good to my children and care about their education. I love our neighborhood, too. After being here for about 5 1/2 years, my love has grown deeper. Getting to know the families, I’ve seen a neighborhood laced with care and talent and picking up slack when others need help. This is a strong, educated, beautiful community. But, there’s something you don’t see living in the suburbs, unless you look really hard.
When I was serving at the festival that day, I looked around the room. I saw a multitude of The North Face jackets, Tom’s shoes and other designer clothing. I saw children flashing $20 bills and smiles covered in braces. I saw children choosing what they wanted for lunch from the vendors present.
Reality is deeper than what the naked eye can see. I had to jolt myself into that truth while my eyes were perusing the room. What’s true is that everyone everywhere needs the love of a Savior; needs are visible and invisible. I can’t assume that a child ill-dressed is unloved, and I can’t assume a child well-dressed is loved.
From that moment on, I helped children play the game differently. Because I didn’t know if they might be suffering through the divorce of parents, being abused, watching a parent die, failing in school, hating their appearance or just being ignored, I wrapped my arms around them and guided their hands, hoping love would reach their little bodies.
For the last several years, there has been much talk in the Church about loving the city. For that I am grateful. My attention needed to be turned, my affections needed to be balanced, my view needed to be widened, my life needed to be challenged, and my heart needed to be tugged. These are works that must not cease.
For me, the great part of these teachings is the awareness it has created in my own neighborhood. Had my perspective not been broadened, I would not have been able to see what should be the focus of my narrow. I have seen a greater purpose for where I am, and my heart has been stirred to be intentional in every encounter. While I have realized my responsibility in both locations, the intentionality of how I live in my own neighborhood is different. Needs are easier to cover in the suburbs. I have to listen closer and look harder. I have to be present and available. I have to stop putting myself first.
This tension in my life is good and necessary, but I have drawn one conclusion in my tension: Jesus is Lord of the City and the Suburbs. All neighborhoods need a Savior. In order to find Him, they may need an intentional neighbor showing the way.