Today my family and I got to volunteer at Mary’s Place in downtown Mpls. Mary’s place is transitional housing apartments connected to Sharing and Caring Hands, the largest center responding to the needs of the poor in the Twin Cities.
I have been convicted by how much I talk about how important serving and loving other people in different circumstances than our own is, and yet I don’t see myself and my kids doing it all that much. I want our life to be lived in responding to the needs of the others. It is a priority of our family, and yet, it has slipped through the cracks of daily living with small kids and all the management that goes along with that.
So, today we embarked in playing with the kids in the after school program over at Mary’s place. There is roughly two nuns who play and look after anywhere between 20-30 kids each day. It is a great center, with lots of really wonderful things to play with, but again, only two adults for that many kids. That many accidents. That many arguments. That many bathroom needs. That many emotional needs. It’s a lot.
So they love having volunteers come in and spend time with the kids. Play with them, hang out with them, do activities with them. And that is what my friend Tabitha and I did. We each brought our own three kids and added to the chaos. It was amazing.
I had great conversations with Zoe about life and her seven brothers and sisters. I played on the playscape with a little boy named Dream. Yeah, that’s right, his name is dream. My Noah got a good start on learning on how to ride a two wheeler. Lulu discovered how much she loves the slide, and all the little girls discovered how much they like having a baby around. The nuns were wonderful and so fun and sweet to visit with.
As we were getting ready to leave I was struck by my normal rhythm of investing in people. I am usually the gal who comes into an event or place, or camp or church and gets to hang out for the night or the weekend. We have an amazing time, and then I go home. The youth directors, pastors and parents are there for the long haul. Not me. I go home. Sure there is Facebook and emails to keep in touch, but the real investing is left to those who live in that place. But here I am in this place getting to know these kids, their names and what their life is like. I live roughly less than two miles from them. They want to know when I’m coming back. My kids want to go back. Everyone involved wants to build a relationship and keep this going.
I was reminded that in its truest form, that is what living like Christ is all about. It’s about the relationship and investing in people. It’s about showing up and being there. It also mandates that it’s authentic and not duplicated in a program type relationship. One that would say I have to be here, but instead communicates that I want to be here.
So we either go once to Mary’s place and my kids can remember that one time that we played with those homeless kids. In this scenario, it very much reflects a program that I would do for my kids to teach them about loving and serving others.
We continue our relationship with Dream, Nikki, Zoe, and the others. We invest in them. Get to know them. Keep showing up and communicate that we are people who care. People who want to know them for who they are. Love them where they are at. Then it isn’t a program, its apart of life. Getting to know people in a different situation and building relationships with them is a part of life. It’s living a life of a Christian. It’s being involved in relationships.
I was thankful today for the reminder that my ministry often lacks the depth that I pray for. And in this revelation, I have a place and some new friends to invest in. To love and walk through life with in an authentic and real way. God is going to do something for them, for me and for my children in these new relationships. He always does.