My husband and I have been living in New York City for just over a year now. When we decided to move here we had just returned from 7 months of living with and leading a group of 47 missionaries in 6 different countries worldwide. Life was very transient, but we had also experienced life with these people in an incredibly deep way. We had been through it all with them, we had rejoiced on the mountain tops, cried in the valleys, and found meaning on the plains, we had discovered the richness of living in community and fighting for relationship through all of it.
Fast forward to summer 2016, we are stateside and intentionally praying about where the Lord is leading us to plant our feet. NYC continues to be a theme in our prayers and conversations, and so on October 3rd, 2016 our plane touches down at LaGuardia airport. We have 2 suitcases with us, and an air B & B booked for the next month. That’s it, and not much of a plan beyond that. We don’t know anybody, we have one part time job between the two of us, and we are living in a single room with a shared bathroom and kitchen. After half a year of living in deep, intentional, Christ centered community we are alone in one of the biggest cities in the world, and we are very aware of the lack.
Our vision when moving here was to recognize and participate in what God is doing in the city. After all, New York City is one of the most influential cities in the world, and if that influence were driven by a desire to see His kingdom come on this earth, the whole world would be impacted.
What does it look like to pursue something like that, to have a There that is so big if feels overwhelming to think about how it can happen. How can two small specks of dust make an impact on this city of 8 million? Our first goal was community. We recognized that we could not do it alone, and had experienced the fullness of linking arms with other like-minded individuals. In regards to the body we were lacking quite a few parts between the two of us, and acknowledged a need for more.
It felt a little strange, setting a goal towards community. When we were on the mission field we were equipped to develop community, we were handed the tools, we were given a backhoe and told “dig deep”, and it happened quickly. At the end of it all, when we left our squad behind to continue the journey themselves, it felt like we were leaving family. When we got to NYC it felt like we were given a shovel, and told “dig deep”. In the past 14 months we have toiled, it has taken a physical, mental and emotional effort to get to the place where we are now. It has taken weekly coffee dates, us committing to a church and then joining multiple community groups, us saying yes to almost every opportunity that was offered us to connect with people, volunteering at as many of the church events as we could make it to, lunches, dinners, and lots of time. It has taken tears of loneliness and frustration, and me pulling myself out of the victim circle multiple times; it has taken energy and intentionality. But the fruit that has come from naming the things that we know God has called us into, and pursuing them with commitment and faithfulness has more than made up for it.
After a year of travelling once or twice a month for work, and being present and investing our all when we were here, we decided to get away last month, just the two of us, to breathe and reset. We were gone for two weeks, and on our first Sunday back I was given the gift of seeing just how much this place really has become our home, and how much these people really have become our family. I was inundated with hugs, and welcome backs, and we missed yous, so much so that it brought tears to my eyes. The calluses on our hands and the aches in our muscles point to the effort and intentionality with which we have chosen to live our lives. This journey is not over, we will never fully arrive, and we will always have to dig, but in the digging we have uncovered treasures that are worth far more than we ever could have imagined.