We talk a lot about community here at The Field’s Edge. Sometimes community can become kind of a buzzword, or cultural lingo that loses its meaning. It’s trendy to talk about our tribes (eyeroll) and the groups of people that we feel like we belong to, but those things are typically built around commonalities. Community is different because it depends not on something temporary but on something ancient and eternal; the shared identity of being image bearers of God.
What I mean by that is that every human being on the face of the earth has an innate dignity that cannot be taken from them. It has been bestowed by our Creator, and even unbelief does not remove it. Can you imagine what this world would be like if we looked at each other that way? How much more loving could we be to those we disagree with; to those who don’t look like us, act like us, or believe like us? There may never be another inch of common ground, but in the recognition of our shared identity as image bearers there is room for love to flourish.
In our work we are blessed to catch glimpses of this often. When a racist white man holds the door for an African-American man with special needs; when people from every socioeconomic status gather together to worship and eat together. We have enjoyed many moments where everything seems to be stripped away and we are able to see each other as equal. I find no other way to describe it, but to say that our eyes are opened to see God’s artful design in one another. What that does is electric. All of the things we do to distinguish ourselves disappear and from the baseline reality of what we share, we can truly love.
Oh, that we could help people to see! But if we are honest, at least to a small degree we already have.
I met B. one morning in October of 2017. It was after she spent her first night in the uncertainty of the homeless shelter. Sure, she was anxious, but what was most clear is that she felt alone. The only thing she had was a vehicle, a few other remnants of life before homelessness, and wounds too deep to see. Another woman named D. was at the shelter at the same time. Though she didn’t have a place to live, she went to work for a home health agency every day. D. was open and vulnerable about her past which broke my heart. I have met others facing the harsh reality of being alone in the world before, I had no idea that 8 months later I would be the one in need and in a position to receive their kindness. Life is funny like that.
Wednesday afternoon I left for home a little early to swing by the grocery store. I was celebrating! After many months in limbo, B. had received the keys to her new apartment and we wanted to help her stock her pantry. D. got her place a few months ago. She and I still laugh about how we were nearly knocked out when we cut the straps of the rolled and vacuum sealed coil-spring mattress for the first bedroom she’d had in years.
I headed over to B.’s new place where she and D. were bringing in a few knick-knacks. It had been a busy day for me and I was excited to get home to see my family. My plan was to see the new place, drop off the HEB gift card, and head to the house. But I turned the ignition and all I got was a click.
First B. brought her car over with her jumper cables and I thought, “Oh what a sweet little moment that she is now empowered to serve me”; a small taste of shared humanity. But it got so much better. D. had worked several years at a Ford factory in Georgia and when my car still wouldn’t start, she bought me a Mr. Pib to pour on the corroded terminals because I had no cash. When that didn’t work, she was confident that my battery was finished. While I kept messing jiggling the wires, they both left to get supplies: cold water and tools.
D. knew just what size socket to use and she went right to work removing my battery. B. brought me an ice-cold bottle of water and we leaned up against the bumper while D. turned wrenches. I loaded up the battery in the back of B.’s car that she had practically lived in for a time and they drove me to the auto parts store to get a new battery. On the way there I realized that I was smack dab in the middle of our mission being carried out. Cultivating home will eventually be lifting the chronically homeless into a permanent supportive tiny home community, but cultivating home is about much more than the house. It’s about restoring dignity, building community and relationships, and empowering service. I was the helpless one in this scenario, and these two formerly homeless ladies were serving me.
D. got the new battery installed in no time and I got in the driver’s seat to start it up. The moment of truth. Click. Now what do we do?
We headed into the empty living room of B.’s new apartment to drink some water and get out of the heat. In walks another friend of ours to bring B. a new bed. He suggested we try jumping my vehicle one time. I turned the key. Vroom.
It has been a rough season for my family. Working too hard between getting a tiny home village built and planting a church. Titus choked on some food a few weeks ago and we spent what we had hoped would be a restful weekend in the hospital. We’ve had to trust the Lord to get us through each day. Normally, things like car problems frustrate me, but that Wednesday afternoon the bad battery resulted in a grace to my soul. After tilling hard ground for quite some time, tasting the fruit of our labor was extra sweet.
We’ve entered into the capital campaign for our tiny home village and we would appreciate your prayers and support. We are so looking forward to many more stories like this one taking place when we open up the village, but we will savor this one for quite some time.