I enjoy listening to NPR. One time, my friends and I were going around assigning what people would be doing in 5 years and I was voted “Most likely to host an NPR show” a title that I happily own.
Today as I was driving, I was listening to a report about low income (a.k.a. Section 8) housing and the struggles that some developers have in bringing these projects and these apartment buildings to life. I was appalled when they played an interview with an affluent woman who was against a low-income apartment building coming to her neighborhood and the obvious classism that she held. Then, as the segment continued, they discussed the corruption of some developers who were using tax payer money to pad their pockets and finally some city officials who took bribes in order for some housing projects to be pushed through. My heart was saddened for the children who will grow up in low income areas because that’s the only place their hard-working parents can afford to live. It’s a sad reality that these precious families could have a brighter future if they could afford to live in a different zip code. I was deeply angered at these already wealthy people who took advantage of a situation to the detriment of others.
I used to call myself a pessimistic realist, but I’m coming to realize that I’m consistently swinging from the extreme of idealism to the extreme of pessimism and somehow manage to eventually end up in the “realism” middle. I want to build businesses and own companies that create jobs for people and help stimulate the economy. I want to be strategically philanthropic and give in such was that will yield the most rewards. I want to use my influence to improve people’s lives and give them a hope for a better future. I have dreams of giving hard-working families houses and cars and things they need to give them a leg up in life. I want to help people get out of poverty and give their children some of the incredible opportunities I’ve been afforded.
Today I was reminded that not everyone is like me.
And then I think back to before I knew Jesus. While I’ve always had this altruistic side, I spent many years letting my selfishness silence my desire to help others. I remember, when I was 13 years old, I wanted to be a lawyer because I’m great at arguing and I love the law, so it just seemed like a logical goal to want to work toward. I can still picture the image I had for my future, it was at night and I was looking out over a bustling city with a beautiful skyline that I could see from my office on some double digit floor. I was wearing an expensive black power suit with my hair up in a tight bun and my office was clean and crisp and absolutely beautiful. In my 13 year old vision of the future it was all about how much I could amass for me. I didn’t imagine community or friends or family, just my job and my money.
What a hopeless image indeed! But I’m sobered when I remember there are people in business and government who live like that. There are men and women living out there who are just in the rat race, striving so they can make money for themselves or make a name for themselves. There are people who are blinded by classism and racism who don’t have the capability of empathizing with the plight of someone else. And there are families living in squalor, whether by choice or by circumstance, who are without hope.
I am reminded that Jesus is the answer.
I love to fix things. Identifying problems and coming up with strategic solutions is one of my God-given gifts, but in this case and so many others, the answer really is Jesus. These groups of people need to know the love and grace and forgiveness and redemption and hope that he brings. Without him we are hopeless, helpless, selfish people but with him we are more than conquerors. Today, was a sweet reminder that nothing is impossible with him.