Street Hope is a classroom for me as much as anyone else. Every week we arrive early to set up our Friday Night Drop In and this is always a hectic time. We get the coffee and snacks ready put table cloths out and set up the board games, all the while welcoming early comers. It can be a bit chaotic. A few years ago I got a bit irked with one of our community friends. She would come in and interrupt whatever I was doing or whatever conversation I was having and ask if I could give her a ride home afterwards. Finally I spoke a bit sharply to her and requested that it would be better if she acknowledged my personhood by first asking me how I was before asking a favour. Dutifully over the years she has remembered. Now she asks after my wellbeing and then asks for a favour. I noticed that lately I am getting as irked as earlier days because her salutation seems perfunctory and not at all sincere. I am learning that when I am feeling irked I am best to talk to God before I talk to people, and so we had a conversation that went something like this: “I’m upset because my friend’s greetings seem insincere and it feels like she isn’t concerned about me but only in what favour I can do for her!” “I know how you feel.” “What do you mean, Lord, You know how I feel?” “That is exactly how you treat me.”
I realized that it was true. All too often I want God’s grace (favour) but my acknowledgement of Him and his divine majesty, is mere formality lacking in personal connection. I rethought how irritated I had been and marvelled at God’s patience with me. I now repent of my presumption and I want to pay close attention that I am engaged in a personal relationship.
I might not have had this valuable conversation with the resultant life lesson had I not been in the Seminary of the Streets. My friend was instrumental in my learning. I also needed to take time to reflect or I might have rushed past an important growing experience.
Because I live in relationship with a community, in all its dysfunction and mess, I can move forward. If instead of in community I lived in ‘apartment’ I would miss such occasions. So I thank God for my community.
I also thank God for his calling to ‘intentional community’ which means that I intend to grow myself and others. This forces me to reflect on experiences and hear God’s voice through our communal experiences. The proverbs reflect this “As iron sharpens iron; so one person sharpens another.” My friend was a sharpening stone for me though she didn’t know it (until I told her). This gives me hope that I can be involved in ‘sharpening’ my friends, both intentionally but also unintentionally.
One key is that I move among my friends, in community, for it is easier for God to steer a moving car than one that is parked.