So I know last month I said I was gonna talk more about Richard Rohr, but life takes you down different paths. With almost two years of being a YAV under my belt and one month remaining, I’m planning on writing a blog later this month about what I’ve learned from my time as a YAV. But this month, I wanted to be real in a different light. I wanted to talk about the things I’ve struggled with over the past 21 months. I feel like I only put a lot of good, happy things on my blog cuz that’s the overwhelming reality of my YAV year. It has been a challenging, transformational experience that I’m SO grateful that I’ve been able to experience. But it hasn’t always been happy and easy. Here’s some of the things that have been hard for me during my time as a YAV
- Going out! In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal and I still get to do it every once and awhile but it’s far and few between. Also, it’s just a nice self care for me that I’ve had to put in moderation. As we say at 12 Baskets, sometimes we are called to serve and sometimes we are called to be served and being served is just nice to have after two years of service
- Personal expenses: specifically this year and having a car. It’s a privilege and a curse y’all. I have had a car this year just because the nature of my work. In order to be apart of an organization that rescues food, sometimes you gotta be the rescuer. And I do occasionally get reimbursed for gas but there’s still things like oil changes, tire rotations and getting a new battery that are just hard to try and work into a simple living stipend. At the same time, I’ve been able to see my car as a ministry. Not only in the realm of rescuing food but also occasionally giving rides to friends from 12 Baskets, to meetings or work or the UPS station that is off the bus route or to a place far enough outside of town where they can start hitchhiking.
Living in community
- Living with people different than me. I believe this is the natural fear of entering the living in community aspect of this year. Granted some of my closest relationships have come out of living in community but that doesn’t mean it’s still not hard. Especially when it comes to expectations and trying to meet each others. Even with a house covenant it’s been hard trying meet other people’s expectations for community but also try to understand that other people aren’t always going to meet mine.
- Living with people similar to me. The other side of the coin. This isn’t always easy either. I think this also comes back to expectations. When you meet someone who’s gonna be in your community and think, “Oh, with them? This is gonna be easy!” In my experience it doesn’t always work out this way. I think that just because I got along with someone initally, I thougth that we would agree on most things and have similar goals for our year of service but that hasn’t always been the case. But in both of these scenarios I have created close friendships that I hope will last for years to come. But just like in ANY relationship, it’s not always gonna be easy
- Food! To any of y’all out there who have lived in community before you will understand this one. Last year in DC, we had separate food budgets which in retrospect wasn’t the greatest idea because we spent more money on food than if we had gone in on it together. On yop of that, we just had SO much food that it took up a lot of space. This year we do a communal food budget which as a whole worked out better but is still hard because if one person wants something, you’re less likely to get it. In my reality it’s seltzer water and nuts, they are my JAM! But this year I either sacrifice the cravings or spend a little extra out of my own food budget to keep me happy.
This last one requires a reference
Notice anything about the top 3 fastest gentrifying cities? That’s right! The past three years I have worked my way from number four right up to number 2 (I’m so grateful I’m not moving to Charleston in a month.) There’s something about living in quickly gentrifying cities that I’m just tired of. I feel like theses cities lose their sense of who they are. Town like Portland and Asheville create a really unique, interesting feel and then everyone else discovers it and wants to be apart of it(myself included) which then prices everyone who made the town what it was, not able to live there anymore. Not to mention tourists, God love ‘em. I get it, they’re good for the economy and it’s fun seeing new parts of the world. But I haven’t been able to feel like a town is really a place where I can sink my teeth into when it’s own sense of identity seems to be in flux and it’s full of so many transients. Not to mention the effect of gentrification on locals in these towns. Folks who have lived in these places their entire lives are being forced out of their homes because a place becomes trendy overnight. I personally can’t justify living in a place that I have the privilege to choose to live in when people who can’t afford to move are being forced to do just that. I can’t help but feel guilty that I’m unfairly taking up the space of someone who can’t afford to be in a town when I’m just somewhere because I want to be.
I want to end on a high note. I feel like I just dropped a lot of whiney realness but I wanna validate the positive aspects of my experience as a YAV with a nice story.
So in Asheville, churches do their Vacation Bible School altogether, at the same time. It makes the week an interfaith experience and kids get to meet new people AND you have more people to help run VBS. So during the week of VBS API did a Poverty Walk with a group of emerging 6th graders and the next day they came to the Cafe to help us open the Cafe. For the walk, they were one of the perceptive and engaged groups we EVER had and at the Cafe they all legitimately wanted to be there and help out and talk to our guests. They were fantastic. My favorite thing that came out of this week was a post I saw on Facebook. At the Cafe we have this sign that embodies our spirit of Hospitality.
When these kids were at the Cafe they obviously saw this sign. Well, one of my friends on facebook is a mother of one of these kids and she posted that her son had recreated this sign and put it on his door.
He was so moved by the work that we do that he needed to see it everyday and incorporate our message into the very day life at his house.
Despite all my struggles and frustrations, great things are still happening in the spaces that I have had the pleasure of being in. I’m grateful for these two years and everything I’ve experienced, all the work I’ve done and all the connections I’ve been able to make. The outcome of my time as a YAV I honestly can’t put a price on but I’m so thankful to all of you who helped to get me here. And it all wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t take the leap of trying something completely new.
He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.
John 21: 6
Grace and Peace