Be careful of the shrapnel
by Dan Crain, South Atlanta Community Facilitator
Let me let you in a little secret for those seeking to join their lives with the vulnerable; it’s really hard and messy.
Sure, we love to tell the good stories of all that God is doing through what he has called us into, but the reality of it is that these stories come only after a lot of hard work and perseverance.
Recently during one of our REMERGE meetings we were talking about the collateral damage that happens in the hard work of reconciliation. Something had happened at one of our meetings with one of our community members that had caused a disruption that upset some people.
These issues are handled and proper steps are taken to address what happened. But the reality of this situation and others is that this work can be really hard at times. It is so much easier to send someone to a program where they will be helped, but learning to be reconciled to the most vulnerable is really heard. It is so easy to cast people out because their behavior is inappropriate, but trying to be reconciled to them is so incredibly hard.
During the discussion one of our community facilitators made a profound statement;
“This is the part of the shrapnel that we all need to be ready to receive when joining our lives with the vulnerable.”
Why will we receive shrapnel? Because you are trying to join two different kinds of lives, cultures, classes that don’t understand each other. One culture can be at times full of chaos, stress, and constant harassment and have a mentality of merely surviving. Another culture can be at times organized, neat, clean and think everything’s under control. At times when those two worlds collide chaos can happen.
The problem is when one people group just gives up and thinks that it’s to hard and to messy when people don’t change or doesn’t live up to the expectations of the way people need to behave.
We can’t give up and so we keep showing up in our communities trusting that Christ is somehow at work in our own hearts and in the hearts of those on the margins. We make changes. We draw boundaries. We do everything except cut people off.
But we don’t stop because having the vulnerable in our lives shapes us and changes the conversation from “them” to “us”. How we do have conversations about creates spaces where everyone is welcome and finds a sense of belonging?
Come be a part of our communities where are trying to live out reconciliation. Find a community near you that is merely not trying to help those on the margins, but seeking to join lives with them.
Helping the poor protects you. Joining your lives with them can get you bloody.
Which one do you think Jesus calls us to?