• Dana L. Butler

Some Honesty About Our Neighborhood, and How I’m Learning to Love in this Place

It’s been months since I’ve participated in Five Minute Friday over at Lisa-Jo Baker’s place. Why? I don’t know, other than my recent writing-related struggles. I just have not had the brain or heart energy to pull it off.

Join us here if you’d like – we’d be thrilled to have you!


BUT.

I miss the community, the shared hearts and linked arms, and I’m turning over a new/old leaf on this Friday evening. Even though this post won’t be shared till Saturday, I’m wishing you a happy Friday and sharing some honest thoughts here prompted by the word…

MESS

I first moved into this neighborhood when I was 19, almost 20. I’ve spent going on 9 of the 13 plus years since then living here.

As an early 20’s, Jesus-loving, edge-hugging radical, it was totally “cool” that I lived in the ‘hood. It was, well, edgy.


And while I saw Jesus move in big ways during my first nearly 6 years in Kansas City’s Historic Northeast Neighborhood, I also found my identity in the perceived radical-ness of where I lived. In the fact that we heard gunshots multiple times per week and that a drunk homeless gentleman totally followed me home one night.

I was scared. Yup.

But it was still cool.

That was then. And now, edging on my mid-30’s with 2 small kiddos, the “coolness” of living in this neighborhood has faded. Apart from Jesus, and seeing His Kingdom in small pockets around here, there’s not a whole heap to love about it.

It’s messy. Properties are messy. Streets are messy. Lives are messy, and the mess is overt. None of this “everything’s great in my life” facade that you sometimes find in the ‘burbs.

The crime, the gunshots and police run-ins and the precious ladies who work the streets — I watched one get picked up this evening before 7 pm, in broad daylight.

Broad. daylight.

Yeah, it doesn’t feel cool anymore. It feels heartbreaking. And it grates on me a lot of days, if I’m honest.


And we do feel the Lord moving us on. To Colorado, to Stan’s side of our family, to the church family where we were married. And yes, to the suburbs.

But the craziest thing is happening these days while we sit tight with a For Sale sign in our yard and the days on the market tick, tick, ticking by.

I am beginning to have courage to love my neighbors.

The cops show up to yet another domestic dispute (I may or may not have been the 911-dialer this time) and I welcome the 2 older girls into our home to use the rest room and wait things out. I give them milk for their baby brother who’s screaming in the backseat of the car while his mom is cursing out the cops.

Mom comes to the door later to tell us about a restraining order and who’s who over at her place so we know who to call the cops on and who not to… and all we can do is listen, y’all.

But listen we do. And I’m not squirming this time.


I feel so limited in the impact we can make.

I’ve always felt limited and it’s been the source of my discomfort. All my “what can we really do here anyway? How can our small family with small children and small amount of free time — how can we make a dent in the dark desperation that hangs in the air around here?”

And suddenly, somehow, it’s okay.

Because this whole thing of letting Jesus come and fill in my gaps, my weak places — letting Him show up and be Himself in the midst of my limits — it’s releasing me to love. To listen. To serve.


And maybe there will be more conversation to come, but for now, my limited capacity to make a difference? It’s just enough.

Because He’s enough. And I’m learning to trust it so much more deeply these days — that His infinity will pick up where my finite abilities leave off.

So I can love, within my capacity, within the realm of what’s healthy for me and my family, and leave the mess in His hands. He’s capable, and He’s committed to my neighbors. To my neighborhood.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to let these truths sink in in this seemingly endless season before we move.

So Jesus, if our house is slow to sell, may we choose to trust you. To let you expand our hearts in the waiting. Your timeline is so intimately, personally, precisely perfect for our hearts.

**I have always genuinely tried to fit my 5 Minute Friday posts into 5 minutes. But for the sake of honesty this evening, I’ll let you in on the fact that this one took me more like 20. I couldn’t resist.**

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