What’s your normal?
This past fall, I had the opportunity to listen to a wonderful woman speak. Her name was Vicki. And Vicki has called South Minneapolis her home for much longer than I have. She is a mother of 8 children who had grown up in an incredibly poor family. She referred to herself consistently as a poor, white woman. Currently she runs a soup kitchen at a local church in Minneapolis where she serves meals every Sunday afternoon to many homeless men, women and children in need of a hot meal. It was incredible to hear her story…how she expressed that she was much more at home in the soup kitchen than she was in the sanctuary pew on Sunday mornings. How the people she felt most comfortable with were those who had no home and had nothing to eat for lunch that day. Her normal was being with people in poverty, families who had no other place to go.
Vicki talked about how she often gets compliments from people in the church about her work…how she spends time with “those” people, and how she sacrifices her money, safety, and energy working with “those” people. She said she feels angry, upset, and defensive when people give her compliments like that…because she isn’t doing anything out of her normal. And it isn’t “those” people to her…they are “her” people. Her friends…her neighbors…her community.
So it got me thinking, what is MY normal?
Growing up, I could easily say that my normal was a middle-class, white neighborhood, church, group of friends, and school. My normal was being with people who were exactly like me. We looked the same. We usually believed the same things. We liked to do the same things. But thankfully, in the past few years, my normal is changing.
On a more regular basis than ever before, I interact with someone experiencing homelessness…with someone who looks different than me…with someone who is from a different economic class than me…with someone who has different beliefs than I do…and this is slowly becoming my normal. And honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. When I finally chose to step out of what was comfortable and “normal” I have begun to see God and the world in a new light…one that I have found to be more beautiful than ever before…and one that I have learned the most valuable lessons.
I was completely challenged by Vicki and her story…and the question of what my normal was. So I guess my purpose in writing this is to ask you the same question I ask myself each day, what is YOUR normal? And is this what you want it to be?
Maybe our normal should look a little different. Maybe we should start spending time with people who you normally wouldn’t…maybe we should take a trip to a place and a culture that is different than what we are used to…maybe we should give up going out to eat a few times a month and sponsor and build a relationship with a child at Emmanuel…maybe we should go into the inner-city and see for yourself what it is like instead of just taking the media’s word for it…
Will it be challenging?
But will it be worth it?
More than you can even imagine.