I wanted to take a moment to pause and write a little bit about where I am going, both in a physical sense and a spiritual one.
This year has been marked by a lot of transformation for me. I feel as though my eyes and heart have been opened to the immense amount of suffering and need in this world, both in my city of Chicago and around the world. As Alice Hoffman says:
Once you know some things, you can’t unknow them. It’s a burden that can never be given away.
I live in a city I have grown to love that is beset by gun violence, gangs, racial tension, and gentrification. A city where tens of thousands of women and children are sold for sex every day. A city with a long history of corruption in politics and misconduct within the police department. Even in the last few weeks, there have been headlines about a 9 year old boy lured into an alley and executed because of his father’s gang affiliation, a young woman shot and killed as she left her grandmother’s house, and a Chicago police officer arrested for first-degree murder for shooting a 17 year old boy 16 times.
I’ve been to rural Cambodia, where so many live in abject poverty without access to basic necessities we take for granted, like clean water, electricity, education, and even rudimentary healthcare. Cambodia, a population that survived a horrific genocide where 2 million people (25% of the population) were slaughtered ruthlessly.
I’ve read and seen firsthand how most of the rest of the world lives in comparison to how I live. And I am ashamed. I have so much more than I need. I live a life replete with comfort and convenience and excess that I take for granted, and dare I say, feel entitled to.
So, here’s what the future looks like for me: I am moving. I am staying in Chicago, but I am moving from an expensive, predominantly white neighborhood near the downtown area to a neighborhood that is further north and west, more diverse (almost 50% Hispanic), and less expensive to help with a new campus that my church is planting.
First and foremost, I feel strongly that God is calling me to Logan Square. I’ve felt all year that He has been preparing me for something, that He would be calling me to move elsewhere when my lease ended, and that I would choose to live a life very different than the one I am living now. You can watch a short video of me talking about this here. I found a 350 square foot furnished studio in Logan Square/Avondale that is $600 less per month in rent than where I am now. That extra money can go toward increasing my monthly charitable giving budget. This is also means I can get rid of 80% of my stuff – I am trying as much as possible to downsize my possessions and live a more humble lifestyle.
Second, I get to part of the beginning of something. I get to be part of the small group of folks from my church who are investing in the growth of this new campus, and I am so incredibly excited about that. I am excited to experience a more intimate, close-knit church community, and I can’t wait to see how God works through us individually and as a church community to positively influence the Logan Square neighborhood in collaboration with the other churches that are already there.
Third, I am looking forward to developing more diverse friendships. With few exceptions, the majority of my friends are just like me – overwhelmingly white, middle-class, 20’s/30’s, college educated, and Christian. I don’t want my experience of life and of people to be so narrow.
I am often acutely aware that I am sacrificing my own comfort and convenience for the sake of following God on this. I am giving up my current apartment that I love (except for the outrageous rent) – I have a 50th floor unit in a high-rise with all of the cushy amenities like a gym, a library, a cafe with free coffee each morning, a pool area with grills, and a business center. I am giving up being located only one block from the Red Line. I am foregoing my ability to go grocery shopping without even going outside (there is a Whole Foods in my building with a resident entrance). Instead of being able to walk to work in 30 minutes, now I will have to take the train for 30 mins instead. I am leaving the proximity of most of my good friends, several of whom live in the building I live in now. I am leaving the wonderful group of women who have been my church small group for the past year and a half, perhaps even to lead a small group of strangers in Logan Square.
I know I am making the right choice, but I do find myself uncomfortable and uneasy. Most people choose where they live based on comfort and convenience. By contrast, I am choosing to live where I feel God is calling me and to adopt a lifestyle befitting what He is laying on my heart. It’s not easy. It’s not comfortable. But obeying despite these things is exactly the circumstance where I need God the most and to trust Him even as I step out in faith and do the things that scare me.
As David Platt says,
Are we going to follow Jesus? Not, are we going to bow our heads, say a prayer, read the Bible, go to church, and give a tithe while we get on with the rest of our lives? But, are we going to follow Jesus with all of our lives, no matter where he leads us to go, how counter-cultural the task is, or what the cost may be for us, our families, and our churches?