It has been two and a half years since Matt and I moved to our apartment. In that time I have had so many mixed feelings about living here – in this building and in this community. Sometimes I love it, and sometimes I feel trapped and want to start over in a new city. Sometimes I see so much potential to serve God and be fulfilled, and other times the neediness and brokenness of our neighbourhood overwhelms me, shuts me down.
When we first moved in, I had great hopes and exciting ideas about how great life/ministry would be here – although it turns out new contexts don’t give you a new personality, and I’m still a slight introvert who always feels on the brink of doing too much. Not ideal for bursting onto a new scene to share the love of Jesus. Living in a building rather than a basement, however, and having a dog both make it easier to get to know your neighbours, and over time Matt and I have become settled here, made connections. We haven’t started a Bible study group or a monthly potluck, but we’ve learned some names and chatted in elevators and bonded over making the best of life despite constant construction projects, rent increases, and random acts of vandalism.
I was struck by the change in my perspective on living here after being locked out of the apartment this weekend – I came home from church alone because I was tired and hungry and so not up for helping un-decorate the church from Christmas. As I parked and headed to the elevators I realized my house keys were in the pocket of a coat I was not wearing, and even though that coat was only a five minute drive away I was ready to lay down in the hallway outside our door for an hour rather than go back to the church and come back home again. Pregnancy hormones have not mellowed out my inner drama. Just as I realized I had no keys, however, I crossed paths with a neighbour we know from the fourth floor (they have a dog), and he invited me to drop in on his wife while he returned a winter coat to the store. His wife made me tea, we had a really great chat, and when I got my keys back she sent me home with some shepherd’s pie to heat up for lunch.
Two and a half years ago I would have been grateful for the hospitality but also wondered in anxiously bold font in my brain, “What will God DO with this?” I know because that was my reaction to the first bit of neighbourliness I experienced in this building. This weekend, I was grateful for the hospitality, refreshed by socializing, and comfortable in trusting that God has a plan much bigger than I can unravel or solve. I keep needing to learn that faithfulness is developed in small steps, and I recognize accepting that invitation instead of giving into self-pity as a small step.
As we continue to make connections and grow relationships, I am not looking too far ahead, just enjoying what is good, wrestling through what isn’t good, and doing my best not to get in my own way. I am definitely glad that after all this time has passed since so prayerfully moving into this building, living here continues to bear fruit.