Antquan tells people when talking about Broken Hearts that if they’d known what they were getting into when it started, they probably wouldn’t have gone. Even more true for me, a bit timid just going to write an article about, I’d never have jumped right in if God had politely asked and gave me the full rundown.
Not because it’s terrible, though. Only because at the outset, the full picture would have sounded too intimidating. Once you realize the full picture,you’re so deep in that it’s not intimidating anymore. Ignorance is bliss, my friends.
I was reflecting on this because within the last year, I’ve met so many people know the area well for any number of reasons. The general response is, “Do you know that area?” If they’re police they tell us we shouldn’t be there because it’s not safe. If they lived or worked there out there at some point, they stay away at all costs and talk about how evil it is. If they come to our Bible studies or hang there sometimes, they say they try to stay away from the area because it only gets them into trouble.
I talked to the property owner of some businesses there the other day and he said of all the difficult, transient populations he’s dealt with, this is the worst. They’re more rude, and cause more trouble.
This is what I got into five years ago. I thought it was just some homeless youth and troubled transgender prostitutes, not an environment that creates a population so difficult people just want to get rid of them. (Which means they just get shuffled around to become someone else’s problem. Great solution, right?)
Because of my ignorance, I had no preconceived ideas and got to know them as neighbors – or realize if they won’t talk to us but it’s because of serious issues that have gotten them to this point. So to me, it all seemed safe and manageable. If someone we know is getting crazy with the police or a shop owner, we can calmly pull them aside and suggest a different approach. It’s quite simple in my head.
I’m naïve, what can I say? I guess that’s part of the treasure in being child-like that Jesus talks about. Children don’t pause to calculate all of the risks, they trust people, believe something is possible, and go for it. The owner of those stores said he thought that this population is unique because they feel so misunderstood. We judge very quickly, while children often seek first to understand.
Good parents are aware of what their children are doing, and if they’re about to do something completely stupid or unsafe, their parents will protect them. My parents were pretty awesome at balance – they gave me a bike and set me free to go ride with friends and do whatever I wanted, with the expectation I’d be safe, would be home by 5pm, and that I wouldn’t go beyond our neighborhood. Their rules for me kept me generally safe and trouble-free, while allowing me to experience new things and have fun adventures.
I look back at childhood like I do my years with Broken Hearts. I think, “Did my parents really just give me freedom to go run around doing whatever I wanted? How stupid is that?!” But my parents trusted me and had taught me how to behave, and luckily I was a kid who followed the rules (usually) so it all worked out pretty well.
When I look back at what I got into as an adult, I think God’s a little crazy. Then I see how incredibly awesome he’s been by letting us loose while protecting us in ways we never realized. He did such a good job of protecting us and giving incredible favor in relationships, that what seems normal to me is something people like the police, store owners, or the homeless look at at think we’re stupid.
While others can’t tolerate our Santa Monica Blvd friends, we’ve been given favor to fight for our friends lives and actually enjoy them. When He calls us, he makes a way.
I heard this quote in a sermon this week and was so inspired by the contrast to fleeing from what other people call giants too big too fight, when in reality God’s already given the victory before the battle even begins:
“Fight till your hand gets weary, but fight. It’s your ground. Station yourself. We would throw the Enemy off if in the place of difficulty we decided to station ourselves there and fight.”