“May you never be sure of any plans you desire,
That you’d learn to trust the plan He has for you.”
This is the story of my life right now. Trust is this funny little word, one that we love in the Christian culture of America. But some days I feel like when we talk about trusting God, what we mean is “trust God…but be responsible.” And some days I feel like when we mean “trust God…but be responsible,” what we really mean is “trust God…but play it safe, just in case.”
I have no backup plan for God right now. And that is a terrifying feeling, and I war against sucking my breath in through my teeth and thinking, “This is so irresponsible…I believe God will provide, but…”
A little less than three years ago, I asked God to provide me with a job that would allow me to be in the same city with my fiancé, now my husband. The only one that became an option was in the ghetto of Kansas City. I honestly thought God was crazy for putting me there. And then I thought, “Well, no, He’s not crazy…He just made a way for me to be with Josh. This is just a stepping stone to a better school.” Yes…and no. I hated that school. And then it changed me and my perspective on life. And at some point, I grew to like it. And at some point, I grew to love it. And at some point, I grew to love the inner city. To the point that, when God began tugging on our hearts to move to Texas, I started looking for another school in the ghetto. Because at some point…the ghetto just became home.
These past three years have been a lot. I have been called an ugly bitch and a nasty hoe. I have been told by children half my age that I was a skinny white girl who would never last more than a month. I have been punched trying to break up fights. I have had a student arrested out of the front row of my classroom. I have seen one student die and another go to prison for killing him. I have seen students get suspended for having sex on public property and filming it. I have sewn missing buttons onto uniform shirts for students who have a drug addict for a father and a prostitute for a mother. I have bought lunch for a tenth grader who is the sole provider for his five brothers and sisters. I have seen a child covered in someone else’s urine because an administrator forced him to pick up a leaking water bottle some other student had filled with pee and dropped on the stairs. I have seen corruption in the education system on so many levels it frightens me and makes me want to quit multiple times every week. But I can’t.
Because in the midst of all the bad has been a whole world of good. I have fallen in love with these kids, with how rough they are and how broken they are and how much they need love. We have loved each other and hated each other and laughed and cried and laughed until we’ve cried. I love those kids with every fiber of all that I am, and they are a product of the inner city. And even when she hurts, the inner city is one of the great loves of my life. She is broken and she is frail and she needs to be loved well. And so do her children. And because I know…I am responsible.
And so it is with a healthy mixture of fear and faith that Josh and I take our next step. We got the opportunity to take over the lease of a dear friend and colleague in downtown Dallas. It is a lot of money, I’m not entirely sure of what my job situation will be after this summer, and it is all just kind of terrifying. We’re going to have to learn how to pare life down to the essentials.
And when I say that out loud, that last sentence…we’re going to have to learn how to pare life down to the essentials…things start to fall into place in my mind. This is not coming as a shock to my God. He is not a God who is taken by surprise. In everything I’ve been learning and reading and thinking and praying over these last several months, God has been present. He has been present and stirring my soul and my spirit and my heart to simplify so that I may serve. Maybe if we don’t have money for all the peripherals, for the eating out and the internet and the cable TV and the two cars and the idea of a vacation…maybe we’ll have no choice but to sit around the table with each other, to invite the neighbors and friends over to share game night and a cheap bottle of wine and life. Maybe we’ll focus more on loving people like Jesus does and less on loving stuff. Maybe the less you have, the more free you are.
Maybe God’s not crazy. Maybe He’s given us exactly what we’ve always needed. Maybe He’ll provide just like He said He would.