“Put me in the margins; I hear that is where you set up camp”
I have listened to the song “Margins” by Great Awakening on repeat for like three or four months. That might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but I’m pretty obsessed with the lyrics in it. (I advise you to look it up) I want these words to be the cry of my heart. I want to willingly go to the margins. I want to be in the places God sets up his camp. He doesn’t typically make camp in the “easy” places. I think it’s pretty safe to say a lot of people in this world would consider Baltimore a “margin”.
The things I heard from people leading up to my BUP experience, were things that I quickly wanted to brush off because they were all negative. Unless it was about the inner harbor or the crabs. I know a lot of people where I’m from only know what they see on the news; they’ve never met the people and inserted themselves in the heartbeat of the community. But, I’m an idealist and I like to believe everyone is innately good. So, I kept saying it can’t be that bad. They kept saying “Stay safe” and I kept thinking about all the reasons I could give about how I would be.
I have learned A LOT about that mindset since being here. I know that I was right about that fact that not everyone here is bad. I have met some of the most amazingly kind, loving, and open people in this neighborhood. Everyone who lives in this area is so open to sharing their story; you literally have to ask them one or two questions and that begins a 45 minute conversation. They invite you into their homes and lives quickly when you hand them kindness, respect, and love. I have also learned about the legitimate pain and suffering that occurs here. In my first three days, I attended two candle light vigils, one for a young girl who was killed by a stolen car hitting her and another for a woman’s sister who died from a stroke. It’s important to mention that I talked to this woman for like 20 minutes. She was sitting on her stoop with her baby in her lap and she was crying. With a few questions, she opened up. In the conversations that I had with others, I had several people tell me about situations where they were witnesses to shootings. The violence here is real. It’s almost normal for the people in this area. Safety is an all too real concern.
Because of these things, I think people would consider this a margin. People think this community is not desirable and beyond the possibility of restoration.
However in all of this, I have been able to see the places God is working. I have been able to see the undying love God has for this city. God’s heart wails for these people and this place. He’s shaping my heart to break for the very same places his does. My heart has been made heavy on more than one occasion in this short time. I’m glad he brought me to the margin. He’s teaching me what it means to love and serve with a heart like his. He’s teaching me that he loves cities; they were intended for so much more than how people see them these days.
God, keep pushing me further into this city. Keep bringing me low so that I can be a place where you can rest your head. You can have my heart and you can have my hands. Make me your land.