Monday, May 17, 2010

Greater thing are yet to Come

A few days ago I was driving around the neighborhoods of downtown old Decatur. I was trying to find a route that I had driven through before, but instead wound up coming across a bridge overlooking a freshwater creek that must have been an off shoot from the nearby Tennessee River. This waterway cut right through the houses of that neighborhood. I love driving around my town especially in that area because I always find something new. It made me think of how little I really know my own city that I have lived in for over 14 years. The past couple weeks I have been reading a book that was assigned to us by my a.p. english teacher called A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins. In short, its an autobiographical novel from Peter's perspective about his walk across the United States. He came to this extreme but necessary action after he realized how bad off he thought his country was. He had been through alot of rough times himself, and thought that the only thing in the news was the latest bombing, assasination of a world leader, or outburst or rioting in the cities. Peter wanted to pack up and move to another country. But a wise old friend told him that this was the best country in the world, and that if he thought that all this going on is something new, then he was in for a surprise. Peter then decided to give this country and its people one last chance by working and walking his way across it.

Peter met many people along the way that he might not even have looked twice at before his journey. At the time he was criticized for talking and living with some of the diverse social classes and ethinic groups that were chastized at the time. Around mine, and everyones hometown, there are long forgotten neighborhoods and sectors that you don't even reailze exist. The community I was driving through the other day made me realize how lucky many of us truely are. Many of their few roomed houses sheltered people numbering six or more, and sometimes more than one family. Their cars were rusted and anything but the newest and latest model of a toyota 4-Runner which is a common occurence in the roads surrounding my home.Depite this, all the children that ran and played outside looked genuinely happy. I felt at home just driving down the street, even without ever talking to many of the smiling faces that I waved to. What I don't understand is why our city spends millions in building new shopping centers and restaurants when theres people who can barely afford two meager meals a day. Many of the churches around here focus on sending youth groups and missionaries hundreds or thousands of miles away to impoverished nations. As great of an opportunity as those are, we often are immune to our own surroundings. We drive a certain route to avoid the "bad" parts of town, we put off donations to local organizations or events, and even when someone we wouldn't normally associate with are in need, we turn the other way pretending not to notice. However, if a member of your church family was in an accident or struck by some sort of tragedy or disease, you and the rest of the community would do any and everything you could to raise money to support them. Maybe we need to take a look at our own surroundings like Peter did his. Maybe instead of taking a Walk Across America, we could start by taking a walk across our own city.

P.S.- I have finally decided on my summer project :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Recently, I have noticed just how many important people have come into my life this year. Some I've known forever and never been close to, but whom now are integral parts of my sanity during the day. I think, through some major events that have unfolded, that I have changed a lot over the past year . Although I have never thought of myself as immature, I think that my general view of people and situations has changed dramatically. However, I have also noticed that people around me have gotten increasingly hypocritical and self righteous. Many people seem to only look for the bad in others. As me and my friends are walking through a store someone will point out another girls face, or clothing, or the way that they walk and criticize them based on that. Or in school there is a constant flow of racial stereotyping that often hinders possible friendships between people because of the worry of what others will think of them. I've found that I don't follow these trends. I try not to argue with my friends or others about being nice or stopping this constant critiquing of other because I know that you cannot really change people, and that whether they know it or not, they probably have their own reasons for doing this. Whether its because of lack of self confidence, insecurity, or hope of attention from others, who knows.

This morning in church, our pastor IV was doing a message based on the simplicity of having a relationship with God and Jesus. IV was telling us about the story of Jesus and Matthew the tax collector, and how Jesus got Matthew to follow him even when some of his disciples doubted His judgement of bringing a purposeful sinner into their group of followers. He said that Jesus doesn't want you to change anything to come to him. He wants you to come exactly as you are with all your baggage and past history, good or bad. If you change then you are not really you, and are just wearing a mask to please others. I think that when meeting people, acquaintances or friends, that you should approach it with the same frame of mind. It shouldn't matter whether they have spiky hair, or nose rings, or are technology whizzes, or they don't have the latest thing from polo. You should accept them for who they are, and get to know them before you can even begin to judge.

From a young age My mother taught my brother and I the importance of not judging books by their cover. I went to a very racially diverse elementary school where everybody got along with basically everyone regardless of skin color,background, or income. We went to a non-denominational church where we met some of the best friends that we've ever had. Some of them, if you were introduced today with no prior knowledge, would never guess that they were either gay, or previous drug users. We just see them as people, and nothing else. When we would see someone in a grocery store or on the street who was very downtrodden, I learned not to laugh or point fingers. You never know what hardships or tragedies they have been through, and had they the chance, they would probably gladly walk any day in your shoes. I just wish that everyone could go back to the oblivious-ness that we had a s small children, where we were unashamed to give a hug around the knees to any and everyone.