The face of Christ

Well summer is over. And I am actually no longer in Chicago (even though I will be back up there next weekend, so that seems odd).

Now, I am in Morton IL at my brother's house- listening to their dog snore and thinking, "wow, this summer turned out to be a surprise." 

I mean that in the sense that I did not want to go to Chicago. And then when I came, I found myself with too much down time on my hands and struggled with being in the place that I was instead of back in the community that I had grown in love in Kansas. But we've been over this.

I know that God can show up in surprising places and it shouldn't be such a huge shock to me that God was there waiting for me in Chicago (at this Christian service non-profit no less. duh, right)?  Even though DOOR's theme this summer (and maybe always) is finding Christ among the poor- and I believe this, my experience was a little bit different.  As the cook, my interaction was mostly with the groups that came to DOOR and the staff. And yet, I saw God this summer in big ways - not just in the homeless wandering the streets, but in the faces of people standing in a group hug, chanting "ain't no party like a DOOR staff party."

In many ways, I needed this. I needed to experience God like a giant embrace. I needed to experience God in the joy of community - a community where I did not feel like my faith and myself was inadequate.

The overall theme for the DOOR network is seeing the face of God in the city. This is a great thing, but for this blog I wanted to follow Austin's lead and celebrate and affirm how I saw Christ in those that I worked with for the past three months. After all, this is what I will remember the most.

So, my dears, this is how I saw the face of God this summer.

Martin: I told Martin once that I never had a little brother before but if I did, I believe it would've been similar to our friendship because he's loveable, but sometimes I really wanted to punch him right in the mouth. (I don't believe in violence so I was always kidding when I said this). I saw God not only in this "younger brother" type of friendship, but also in the way he could make us laugh. (Triple high-five!) He brought a lot of energy to the group, but yet wasn't afraid to ask questions or to hear a different side of an argument (whether it was serious or about something ridiculous like Calvin and Hobbs). I don't know too many guys who to wear their heart, faith and life on their sleeves, but Martin is definitely one who isn't afraid to do just that.

Halo: Halo was the gentle spirit of the group. She is a very peaceful person and even when she was tired she still always seemed to have a smile on her face. I knew that Halo was an introvert at heart (just like myself), but she still pushed herself on a daily bases to be available and  talk with people she didn't know. As a person who does not get their energy from being around people, that always amazed me. Her genuine love for Christ was apparent as was her desire for Holiness, and that is a beautiful thing.

Chris: If I had to describe this man in one word, I would pick "grace." Chris came out of "retirement" to help with DOOR for one last summer. As a seasoned staff member and a resident of East Garfield Park, I am sure he got annoyed with all these little white kids following him around like confused and scared ducklings. Yet, if this was the case, I never saw it. And I am in awe of this. I think a lot of this had to do with grace and how he extended himself to others. Amazing.

Alissa: It took me too long this summer to realize all the things this wonderful woman and I had in common. There was one afternoon in particular where Alissa came over to watch "So you think you can dance" (the best show ever) with me, but after it was over, she stayed and chatted over cups of homemade (mediocre) iced coffee with me. As someone who thrives on "one on one" time, being able to relate to Alissa on a deeper level was like a breath of fresh air. She became my accountability partner (even though I forgot about that once) and a good friend. I am very motivated by her leadership skills and her passion for service.

Salem: Some of my favorite moments from this summer were spent working in the kitchen with Salem - who would come down even during his "free time" to help me or just to say hi. I was very grateful for his friendship, not only because he's an incredible person but also for the way he made sure that I was included. Even though I was not "regular" staff, he made me feel like I belonged. Not only did I see this in his friendship with me, but also in the way he interacted with the groups. I saw Christ in his actions as he went out of his way to make sure everyone around him felt included. That is an awesome gift.

and last but certainly not least - the lovely Austin: I've mentioned this before, but Austin was the reason why I finally decided to come to Chicago and work for DOOR. I am not sure how to sum up in words why this was but after I hung up the phone I knew that this was the place I needed to be this summer. Somehow, in that phone call (that turned out to be more about logistics than an actual interview), Austin's voice reflected Christ's in the sense that I came away from the conversation with a huge sense of peace - something I hadn't experience at all since DOOR Chicago became an idea. When I arrived in the city and finally met Austin in real life, I was so amazed at how someone who was my superior could instantly make me feel loved, care for, and appreciated. I had a lot of conversations with Austin in the van rides to and from the grocery store and I constantly found myself amazed at how strong this woman of God was. During the "week from hell," especially I saw Austin intentionally choose the ways of Christ again and again in a situation where that must have been the toughest option. DOOR is so blessed by her and her ability to look in the face of brokenness and still chose to love. I am very humbled by this.

And there it is. This is how I saw Christ. This is how I was embraced by community. This is how God took a summer I thought was going to be really rough and turn it into something beautiful.

For that, I am grateful.