Who was I angry with? Why was I so frustrated? Where was this disappointment coming from?
Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the Christians in Community Development Association (CCDA) National Conference in Minneapolis. It was an amazing experience to connect with like-minded individuals and be inspired by the stories of transformation that was going on in local neighborhoods. To see God's hand working through people like me.
Coming back home. I began to assess my own neighborhood. Where was the transformation happening in my own neighborhood? Where were those life-giving relationships? Where was the interdependence?
To be honest. I can't see it. And this is where the trouble begins.
I began to compare myself to others. To the stories I heard of living incarnationally. From my perspective. I didn't have those relationships with my neighbors. Why wasn't I able to have these type of relationships? Did my neighbors not like me? Am I not good enough? I must not be equipped to do this work.
The feelings of inadequacy grew and grew.
Why am I here? Where is God in my neighborhood, and why isn't he using me?
It's a trap. And these questions are lies.
One of the things I struggle with is finding my own worth in my work, the approval and acceptance of others. I know and believe my identity is in Christ, but struggles are struggles and they creep up every once in awhile, especially in times like this. I am wrestling through this. But I have faith that God is working. Even when I can't see it. I must live by faith not by sight.
God is here, in the Ramona neighborhood. He has ALWAYS been here. And he will be here when I leave. His hand is working. But he has put me here in this neighborhood during this particular season for a reason. I must have faith that he will use me, in his timing.
So how is God working?
The work that is being done is not outwardly. Its in my heart. God is showing me to live by faith. Not by sight.
He is transforming me and showing me that the relationships that I'm building take time. They have seasons. Times of abundance and times of drought. In the times of drought, where relationships are not so fruitful, it DOES NOT reflect my worth or my ability.
I am believing this is true.
I am learning to take ownership of my assets. As I think about my strengths and what I do well, I am good at developing and fostering growth with people through relationships. Getting to know their story, investing, walking alongside, learning from, and receiving from every relationship. God has given me the ability to connect and relate to my neighbors. He is showing how to do this day by day.
Today, I took a long stroll around my neighborhood.
|My walk way everyday.|
|One of my neighbors art studio. Bellflower is filled with such a wide array of people!|
|Sign for a local carniceria|
|Broken TV set in the empty parking lot next door.|
|Business along Clark Blvd.|
I made sure I took the time to soak up and allow myself to immerse myself in my neighborhood. The sights, sounds, people.
As I walked through the neighborhood, I kept seeing things like this:
|All the vacant businesses alongside Belflower Blvd|
|All about me clothing. Another recently closed shop.|
|Lock. Stock, And barrel.|
Business gone. Vacant signs at every corner. Even the business that were once booming with enthusiastic owners when I first moved in, now left in shambles, abandoned.
Those are the words I could hear God speaking to me. Loud and clear.
As I saw the run down buildings, empty, broken glass, abandoned. I began to think of how this reflected my neighborhood.
In conversations with my Bellflower neighbors, Bellflower was once the thriving little town.
In recent times the economy has hit it hard, like it has in most surrounding communities. Business that once thrived, now left to nothing. Foreclosures are a daily occurrence.
Like the buildings. The people here, including myself are broken, empty, waiting for life to be breathed into it. Searching for revival, a fire back in our bones.
I have been praying that God would reveal needs of my neighbors to me. How can I meet those needs? What are my own needs? Where is my own poverty?
Revival needs to happen here. And its going to happen. God is HERE! I have faith that he is going to do something BIG here. I don't know when and I don't know how. But again. By faith, not by sight
A revival is going to happen in my neighborhood, in my city. My prayer is that God will be seen, in the most unexpected ways. And I know somewhere in there, I and my fellow fellows are going to be a apart of it. Big or small. We are laying the foundations to a transformed Bellflower.
Revival is not only happening outwardly, its happening within me. God is helping me defeat the lies that i believe about myself. The lies of inadequacy and my disbelief in my heart. My worth is not in what I do. It is not in the quality of relationships that I build or what others think of me. It is in Christ. And Christ only.
I falling in love my neighborhood. I am falling in love with its unique quirks, the kookiness and I mourn with it in its brokenness but am joyful that God is here to bring comfort to his people in the midst of it. I feel at home. And that is a wonderful feeling. I desire to stick with it through thick and thin. God is here and moving. I feel it in my bones.
By faith, not by sight.