When we moved our very middle class life into a home in the city years ago, everything else stayed the same. Though our physical location had changed, the investments of our heart did not. It’s easy to drive past buildings in the neighborhood and people in a hurry to get somewhere and never walk those same sidewalks yourself. It’s easy to reside somewhere and yet live your life everywhere but the square mile around your home.
We lived that way for almost the first decade of our lives in the city: we outsourced everything.
Our delicate little snowflakes went to the best Christian preschool we could afford. With our first couple kids, our cushy budget allowed us to shop the clothing racks at the mall outside the city, and we made our weekly trek to the suburbs for bible studies or moms groups. We did attend church right down the street, but that was about it. We saw the dentist, got our hair cut, went to school, bought groceries, took swimming lessons, played at parks, and even socialized well outside the neighborhood in which we dwelled.
About three years ago, we arrived at the difficult realization that, for the first time, we couldn’t afford to send our son to the preschool the older kids attended. Honestly, I was devastated. I felt guilty we weren’t able to provide him with the same opportunity his older siblings had. I was embarrassed we no longer had enough money to maintain the status quo. While change is unavoidable and often even for our good, it is rarely easy, and not having any experience with the city preschools, we decided to homeschool that year.
God has stretched and grown me since then, and I now believe that to stop thinking the way we've always thought, we need to stop doing things the way we've always done. We humans are great at surrounding ourselves with people who look, act, and think just like us. We deceive ourselves into believing we're loving our neighbor and the world around us, but when our world is a mirror image of ourselves, it's only self-love reflected.
My husband said the other day, “you never would’ve even considered sending the other kids to that school.” He’s right. Because in my pride, I felt they deserved better than that. I thought we were better than that.
We live in a poor neighborhood and below 200% of the poverty line ourselves, so she's able to attend school right around the corner for free. She also happens to be the only white girl in her class. And y'all, she's the blondest, most vanilla kind of white you’ve ever seen. But do you think she's noticed? Not a chance. And I love that.
It makes me wonder, how many of us intentionally place ourselves in environments where we're the minority? The only white person? The only straight person? The only Christian? Where loving our neighbor is something other than self-love reflected, where it actually costs us something.
Church, we're missing so much of the depth and breadth and breathtaking beauty of the image of God in the confines of our safe bubbles, which will eventually turn out to be the very prison walls that destroy us if we're not careful. Maybe to stop thinking the way you've always thought, you need to stop doing things the way you've always done. Do something different today, friends, even if it's one small thing, for your good and for His glory.
This post is part of a series I’m writing for the month of October called, 31 Ways God Paved the Road to Urban Missions. If you’re interested in the reading the rest of the series, you can find it here. To receive these posts directly in your inbox every week, subscribe below!