I read this poem the other day on Nicole's blog. Her beautiful family is part of Common Ground Montgomery which is a ministry in Montgomery, AL serving the urban poor. She, along with Delta, has been an incredible encouragement to me in our ministry in Dallas although we've never met face to face.
Nicole posted this a couple of days ago and I loved it the moment I read it, so, I stole it. Blogs are really the only place I can do this so I like to take full advantage of the opportunity. Nordstroms will put you in jail.
Separating West Dallas from the rest of our city is a large bridge and, although we live on the rougher side of ours, we spend a lot of time traveling to the other side and back again. I've thought about this poem all weekend and how I relate so much to what this author has to say.
I've posted before about how living this life in ministry rubs up against all that's in me wanting to blend in and have my life resemble those on the beautiful side of the bridge. However, to my great delight, it's not where we've been called and it has been a source of incredible freedom and joy in Christ that I didn't know before. Sometimes, looking around at all the decay and hopelessness, that joy seems like such a juxtaposition. That's when I know most that it's a joy that comes from Him alone, who created us ALL in His image and gives us the propensity to be more at home on the ugly side of the bridge.
They say I'm brave to live here-
A courageous soul, more so than most
And I believe that they intend it
As a compliment to me
But what they fail to understand
Is the grave insult implied
To those I choose to live among
If being their neighbor
Makes me a hero
Why should it be harder
For me to dwell beside
A family who differs from mine
In hue and size of paycheck
Than it is to share a street
With those who show no sympathy
For the differences and weaknesses
What would they say
If they knew the truth-
That the suburbs with their perfect lawns
Their swimming pools and soccer moms
Far more than the dangers
(Real and alleged)
Of my beloved 'hood?
What would they say
If they discovered this fact-
That I am not brave at all
Just more at home
Where I can be
As broken as the next?
- Alexis Spencer-Byers