I didn’t feel like coming into The City today. And I guess that brings me full circle because the first time I came to this city, I can remember thinking how dirty, ugly, and crowded it was and how I’d never subject myself to living in such a nasty place…
I grew up in the country. But just before I turned twenty, I met a City Man and fell in love—well, I fell in something and followed him into the very city I had always detested.
My first couple of years in The City nearly kicked my tail. I hired on with a temp service as a secretary. The service sent me to offices all over town for one or two weeks at a time. I was barely making minimum wage. One week, they couldn’t find me an office job. I was so desperate for income that I accepted a job in a meat packing plant, where I lasted one very nauseating day before I quit. Within nine months, I found myself broke, broken-hearted, and living alone in the dirty, ugly, crowded City that I still hated.
I have to give The City some credit. It forced me to grow up. Two years after I arrived, I started college in The City. I got my degree there. My first “real” job, teaching ESL at the community college. All told, I called The City “home” for 8 years, 5 months, and 3 days—longer than any other place I have ever lived.
I didn’t come to The City today with the intention of strolling down memory lane, but that’s where I found myself anyway. I drove all over town, running errands, and seeing memories on practically every block.
I’m not sure why I swung through that particular neighborhood, but I found myself passing a tiny dead-end road where I used to baby-sit for the poorest family I’ve ever known. A friend had told me a couple of years ago that all four houses there had been condemned and torn down, yet somehow, it was still a shock for me to see it. I was mostly struck by how in this City that is constantly changing, where new buildings go up every day, they still haven’t built anything in that empty little neighborhood. Instead, there are four squares of yellow-brown grass where four dirty little falling-down houses used to stand.
I’m the same way, I think. God comes into neighborhoods of my life and condemns and tears down the ugly houses. But instead of inviting Him to build something new and beautiful and useful, I get scared and refuse. I put fences around those neighborhoods so that God can’t build there. I protect them like shrines, remembering how it used to be “in Egypt” and wondering why I ever left there.
Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and I knock…” And I invited Him into my heart. But once He comes in, I have to let Him change every part of my heart, not just the ones that are comfortable or convenient.
I thank God for bringing me to The City today to remember the lessons I learned here. And the many lessons I still have to learn.
Today’s post is part of our regular Blog Carnival and today’s topic is “Remember.” You can find a veritable plethora of great blog posts on this topic by visiting the Blog Carnival on Peter Pollock’s website. If you have a blog posted on this topic, you can add your link to our Carnival at the same site!