About a year ago, my husband and I bought a home on the South Side of Billings. We know—it’s that neighborhood. The South Side’s reputation precedes it—drugs, criminal activity, and certainly not the best bet if you’re looking for a return on your investment of purchasing a home. Actually, the street we now live on has been voted the ugliest street in Billings, more than once. Our choice to move seems even more surprising if you happen to know my husband—he’s wise, logical, pragmatic. But sometimes, God moves in mysterious ways. We spent a few years watching our friends intentionally invest in the South Side, calling the streets and neighbors south of the tracks home. I think we were intrigued, honestly. We recognized how many of our interactions with other people were determined by our location. And heck, we were young—why not give it a try? Never mind that we had only owned our first home for about 11 months.
The other night I answered a knock at our front door to find a young Native American guy on my front steps. He had been in an altercation, was separated from his friends, and needed a ride or a phone call–and maybe a glass of water and some food. My husband asked him to pull his fidgety hands out of his pocket, and Kyle* apologetically handed over three knives. We found ourselves a bit uncertain about the next steps and called friends of ours who lived just down the street. Within a few minutes they had arrived on our doorstep. The boys gave our new friend Kyle a ride to his girlfriend’s house. While in the car, Kyle asked if we were all Catholic. The boys replied they were not Catholic, but they did love and serve Jesus. Kyle said, “I knew it! I knew there had to be some kind of God thing about you.” I never know quite what I’m going to find when I answer my front door. Earlier this summer, it was a woman strung out and looking for underwear. (In case you’re wondering, I did not lend her mine, but I did get her a pair of socks and a muffin.) Another time I pulled into the driveway to find my husband chatting with a woman who had, as it turns out, been panicked and running through our alley after her boyfriend saw a cop and freaked out, ditching both her and the car they had been driving. Like most of yours, our home is our family’s place of comfort, security, and rest. We’ve also found it can be a place where we are often interrupted by outsiders and sometimes made uncomfortable— which, I think, is exactly what God intended.
There isn’t anything unique or particularly noteworthy about the interactions we have with our neighbors, but we live most of our life within ordinary moments. Nathan and I often laugh as we retell stories from this past year, but as we’ve spent some time reflecting more seriously, we have found three things that we think apply to discipleship:
- STRATEGIC PLACEMENT
It’s our nature to be drawn towards the mirror, and it takes intentionality to spend time with people different than ourselves. You might not feel called to find a new neighborhood, but there’s likely an avenue to place yourself among people who haven’t heard or experienced the love of Christ.
We are continually working on this one! Honestly, I love to plan. I love to fill my time with things that fill me. Sometimes this creates blinders, and I miss front door opportunities to love people.
- LINK ARMS WITH OTHERS
More than ever, I’m convinced that God has called us to reach people in the community. Nathan and I have found ourselves stretched and strengthened by our friends who have prioritized living on mission.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a challenge– what everyday moments has God given you to share His love, His grace, and His peace?