Tuesday, February 28, 2012

ALWAYS LEAVE A PLACE BETTER THAN YOU FOUND IT

Remember what you learned in Girl Scouts (or Boy Scouts), "Always leave a place better than you found it"?  It's true of what I want for the atmosphere in the venues where I perform, and what I want for the vibe and culture of my apartment building (I'm moving out in May), and it's true in relationships - a successful one is one where each person emerges closer to God, living more abundantly and with a fuller, strengthened, sweetened heart (whether together or apart.)  oOoo!  I made a little rhyme :)

I was probably 6 in this picture :)
Well two days ago, I was going to call my landlord, find a way to break the lease and move home to Maryland for 3 months until the lease was up and my roommate was ready to move into our next place.  There was just too much going on in my neighborhood and in my particular building. (I should have gone for the $500,000 condos in the building next door ... yea, I know.)

Three or four nights a week, I wouldn't be able to sleep because of loud fights on the front stoop, or rowdy 4am hang-outs in the stairwell that we share a wall with, or elaborate drug whistles, or every once in a while, because I'd hear gunshots down the street or around the corner.  And the other day, like I mentioned, water from the apartment above us came pouring out of our light fixtures ... and it's let's face it, it's a small space, with 3 women in it ... but that I can handle because I love them.  Ha!

But right when I'd nearly made up my mind to leave, I felt like God was saying, "My grace is sufficient for you." and "Don't leave it - change it."  So I blasted worship music and started praising God and praying over my neighborhood and my building until I was literally crying and realized that God had moved my heart from a place of fear to this visceral intercession for the people around me - people my age who I have little conversations with on the way in from the grocery store, who may not have anyone advocating for them before God, or anyone who recognizes that war that's being waged against their potential.  And then I got mad, as in, "Devil how dare you try and choke the life out of this neighborhood?!  How dare you try and wrestle the future away from these young guys?! ... and how DARE you try to disturb my sleep.  Christ is Lord here!" ... and by this point I'm punching the air like a boxer training for a fight. Yep ... it was intense.

And I felt this unbelievable love and courage welling up in me.  I felt like little Lucy in one of the Narnia books (don't remember which one)when she found herself facing all of the White Witch's armies alone.  And then the army she was facing began to quiver, and she turned and realized it was because Aslan, the King, the lion, was standing beside her the whole time.

photo credit:  www.ppr3.go.th/ narnia-lucy-and-aslan&page=6

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:  "Security is not found in the absence of danger, but in the presence of Jesus."

As much as it's frustrated and scared me at times, I love my neighborhood.  I have friends here and I know my mailman and while my favorite coffee shop was around this summer, I played music to my neighbors every Saturday for 4 months and talked to them for hours, and there's a bakery that makes double chocolate chip cookies that are seriously 3 inches thick, and there's a beautiful Senegalese community that's been here forever, and there's this adorable little kid who's eating a popsicle every time I see him, and I can walk to Central Park in 5 minutes, and even though it sometimes disturbs my sleep (note to self:  no more 1st floor - front of the building apartments!) there's such rich community in neighborhoods where people hang out on their stoops.

A going away party for a friend at our neighbor Ash's house. Photo: Jen Wang
Essentially, God was saying to me, "If you can dedicate the entire day before each of your shows to praying over the atmosphere of the space and the climate of people's hearts, you can do the exact same thing for your neighborhood.  Plus, you've been here for 9 months already and I've been with you.  And I'll be with you for the next 3.  And everything after that.  You can leave this place better than you found it." 

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To read my absolute favorite posts about life in the city, love and relationships, being a singer/songwriter ... for a living, living well, and community, head over to "The Best of Long City Walks."

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2 comments:

  1. I absolutely love your attitude and heart for the people around you! I think so often we pray that God would change the country or even the world, but we aren't willing to put in the work with the handful of people around us! I'm prayerfully trying to work on that myself. Thank you for the encouragement, girl!

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    1. thanks so much naomi! that's so true ... i'm totally learning that every day, so i'm glad to know we're in it together :)

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