February 20, 2014
(From a letter I wrote to a friend)
The last couple months- and specifically, the last couple of weeks- my heart has been very burdened for the poor and marginalized in a way that feels… different (for lack of a better word) than it has before. I have felt a monumental level of angst that’s led me to feel like there has to be something more than where I am now- which in itself feels weird…where am I more needed than Skid Row? This place is on fire. I mean, I have always been burdened in this way to some degree, but something in me is very unsettled. To clarify, I am not unhappy, rather I feel sort of comfortable…even in my discomfort feels comfortable…I’m not sure if that makes sense.
I don’t really know what this means, but I just keep hearing God say “I have more for you.” I feel sort of like He has given me a vision for the radical, but my eyes can’t seem to focus or see any further than just a combination of colors and shapes — no real clarity.
And that angst never really went away. It did seem to be at bay for a bit… until April.
This time it came with such significant force there was no denying it. Or ignoring it.
I started praying that God would make things clear and move me forward, fairly certain a physical relocation was to come of this… Within 4 days my roommates and I simultaneously decided to move out of our apartment. It was them who brought it up first and it was a shock. A good shock. And I cried because I knew God had heard me.
In June we moved out…and well, I never moved back in… anywhere- really because I just didn’t know where to go. I was certain God was calling me somewhere, but it had yet to be determined. So while my roommates packed up and moved their stuff into their new homes, I purged my belongings and stored what I couldn’t fit in my car or didn’t immediately need. And thus began my new life sleeping on people’s couches, and in their guest beds, and staying in my old bedroom at my folks’ house, and for three weeks in a little room at Younglife’s Woodleaf camp.
It’s a strange feeling when you don’t have an actual space of your own. As what one might call a “loud introvert” this has been extremely difficult for me at times. There are days my brain aches for my own bed to crawl into and block out the world; somewhere to comfortably read, write…or let’s be honest, mind-numbingly watch Netflix. (Yes Netflix, I am “still here” just play the next episode and stop judging me.) Sleep now comes less easily and I’ve had to learn the art of creative grocery shopping and food preservation. (I’ve also said quite few swear words looking for clothes that have somehow been lost in the abyss that is my trunk.)
But it’s also been kind of awesome.
I’ve learned to carve out spaces for myself in the oddest places to find seclusion for my often reclusive mind. I’ve built and solidified relationships with the people who’ve taken me in and allowed me to act like a full-fledged housemate. I’ve learned to ask for help. (note: This is still a work in progress.) I’ve learned what it looks like to make God the source of my comfort and the consistency I crave, and I’ve seen His love for me in ways that leave me dumbfounded and speechless.
This week though, I had to take the next step- the one I knew would be the hardest.
Monday morning I went into work and I gave notice at my job. August 31st is my last day with Skid Row Housing Trust. Just writing that knots up stomach and starts the tears all over again. This feels more terrifying and more sad than leaving any apartment I’ve lived in. In this place I feel like I found myself and learned what it means to just be. It’s the place I’ve met, walked away from, and re-met God over and over. This place is my heart, these square miles my home. So much of who I am is a reflection of Skid Row and it’s scary to leave, to learn who I am apart from it.
But deep down, I’ve known this was coming. I heard it in that angst so many weeks ago, and I prayed for it when I asked to be move forward. So I’m confident I am being called elsewhere- as hard as I’ve tried, quieting that voice in my soul isn’t possible- I had to listen, I have to go, I have to use what I’ve learned somewhere new.
I would love to end this by sharing exactly what’s next, but I can’t, because I don’t really know.
I have some ideas and some tentative plans, but nothing is really solidified yet. It’s all quite weird, frightening, and really exciting. I feel like a blank canvas, ready to start something new, somewhere new, knowing full well that I will take Skid Row with me every step of the way- it’d be impossible not to; this place is woven into the fiber of who I am.
I am it and it is me, forever.