Since before we moved to Colorado Springs, we had been warned of certain areas to stay away from, and ideal areas to live. Which kind of made me laugh because, 1) we’re from H-town, y’all, and 2) we’ve lived in our share of not so nice places both individually and together over the course of our lives. Now that we’re working toward a place to call long-term home, I’ve felt this strong internal pressure to buy the right house in the right neighborhood. Let me be clear, no one has explicitly judged us or anyone else… most of this has been a hard truth I’ve been dealing with inside of me. A “keeping up with the Joneses” syndrome we pretend is not there because we’re embarrassed by it, but also care a whole lot about whether our friends will want to visit us if we live in a neighborhood they don’t rank among top tier.
The reality is this: we live in fear of a lot of things, and we let that fear make way too many life-altering decisions. Surely, it is not a bad thing to desire to protect your family or put your kids in the best schools in town. It’s not a bad thing to not want to live in a home that has a 99% chance of being broken into within a week of living there. But I think we are hiding behind those worries and good, acceptable reasons to avoid the more difficult realities of our own prejudices. Because more than protecting our safety, it’s a protection of this sense of normalcy we’ve created for ourselves. More than a fear of harm, it’s a fear of losing our comfortable, predictable routines and being interrupted by someone else’s inconvenient needs, preferences, culture, way of living, and beliefs. More than giving our kids a decent education, it’s shielding them from other social statuses and potential friends that just don’t fit neatly into the circle we’re wanting to claim as our own. Furthermore, being safe in itself is not bad, but making decisions based solely on keeping ourselves safe is not Christianity. Jesus willingly placed himself in a position that made him extremely vulnerable, ultimately ended in his death, and even put his loved ones at risk of the same.
For about 2 years now God has been digging so much of my own prejudices out and showing them to me. It enrages me to witness Christians getting more upset about our national anthem than the injustice they’re kneeling for, yet I’m not enraged by my own conscious choice to look away while walking by a homeless person instead of making eye contact and engaging. In this house-buying process, I’ve been convicted and called out to surrender my living preferences and have been asking God to put us in a home that would better reflect his kingdom than Whole Foods. I want Jude to grow up around people who maybe look and speak and live differently than him, and grow up loving those things about them. I want to be excited about potentially having neighbors that aren’t just like me and maybe take effort on my part to get to know (I am naturally really bad at initiating friendship). I want our home to be a place people find rest and comfort and feel like it’s their home too.
Two weeks ago I changed my prayer from, “Prepare our future neighbors and give us a home that you know is best for us” to, “Put us in a home that would reflect your kingdom best, and give us open hearts to love the people we live next to. Give us hospitality, and transform our lives to value your people over our preferences. Give us strength to work hard at friendships when it’s not easy or convenient, and is taxing.” God may very well end up placing us in a neighborhood filled with people that are just like us and we click with, but I had to lay down that expectation and filter I was using to locate a house I thought we should have.
Where in your life do you have hidden prejudices that you disguise as good causes? I challenge you to dig into that and don’t simply write it off as reasonable. We all migrate toward what is most like us, cuz we all like ourselves the best. Let’s admit that and surrender it, and move toward something better and more beautiful.