Through out my 7 years in Anderson, I have been a student, an advocate, a consultant, a professor, a non-profit director, and have led some amazing trips to far away places. Each role I’ve carried has beat me down, but pushed me to grow. It also makes me tired and sore.
Since I didn’t spend a single day in my 20’s exercising, I have struggled through my 30’s trying to make exercise a part of my life. As I rolled out of bed today with my calves burning and my shoulders aching, it occurred to me that I will probably be sore in some way, shape, or form, for the rest of my life. A slower metabolism is slowly killing me. Arthritis is slowly taking over my joints. Endurance is tougher and tougher to maintain in any physical activity. I often have trouble staying motivated.
I am saddened by the lack of participation in our community. I am saddened by the lack of appreciation for the assets that this community has. Saddened by loneliness, as often this work leaves me feeling there are far too few of us that care. Nobody seems to have the time. Nobody seems to have a few bucks to contribute.
I remember being a part of the student leadership within the local campus community. I would often spend weeks planning an event. A guest speaker/author, a relevant cultural documentary, etc. This is when I was hurt to learn that not all those that say they care about the same things, or say they are my friend, or have a desire to engage and be educated, actually care. It seems so small and stupid now of course. However, this type of thing has grown in magnitude since then, as I have been more exposed to the practicality of living out my faith, as well as more exposed to those who live out the facade of pretending to care, and pretending to be in this with me.
My neighbors are growing old. Many are tired, desperate, lonely, addicted, and sometimes hungry. They are struggling to raise their grandchildren of a fatherless generation. There are kids on our streets shooting each other. There are churches in my neighborhood growing emptier by the week, they will soon leave decrepit old buildings behind. Denominations are dying here. The culture of previous decades is dying here. There is nowhere to play basketball, nowhere to do homework, nowhere to grab a healthy snack. Diabetes is slowly wiping out an entire generation.
How does this not ache in our spirits? How do we repeatedly stuff ourselves full, while watching shows and playing video games, while there is no justice for our neighbors. How can we spend time arguing or voting in online forums, via the local paper, when that participation will never matter. Are we mistaking this for participation in our community? Are we mistaking this for advocacy? 300 ft. from my house we have the oldest Brownfield site in the state of Indiana. Contamination from a Speedway station of two decades ago has seeped into the ground 100ft around the spot the gas station once stood. In a matter of time this could be in our water. This could be in our basements, yet we spend our time online voting and arguing about what store we would like to see go into the old Target, when it has already been decided.
There was a teenager I had to remove from our boxing class last year, because of constant threats against others he was making. I remember at the time thinking. I wish we had something else for him. I can’t work full time, volunteer 20 hours a week, be a husband, father, and mentor this young man. I’m working on several community projects and working with several teenagers already. Where is everyone who knows I’ve been doing this for 6 years? Where are these college students that want “real” experience or “real” ministry opportunities? I was saddened to learn that this young man was about to get arrested. He drove away from the police, parked himself in front of my neighbors house, on the street, and shot himself in the head.
This tragedy could have been prevented. When will we invest in each other? It is possible to get a state agency to enforce environmental law. It is possible to get guns off the streets. It is possible to provide positive venues for young people to have the love we all desperately crave. When will people help just because it is the right thing to do? When will they put their time and money where their mouth is? When will my spirit stop being tired and sore?