Recently I wrote a post titled What if Jesus Meant All this Stuff from Shane Claiborne’s article from Red Letter Christians with the same title. And I quoted Shane’s in his article “the entire story of Jesus is about a God who did not just want to stay “out there” but who moves into the neighborhood, a neighborhood where folks said, “Nothing good could come.” And I just wanted to mention something about this.
I’ve been stewing over whether I wanted to even write this post because I didn’t want to sound proud, but I still wanted to share it. When Jon and I moved to Hamilton in 2008 we moved downtown to the North end of the downtown core to an area that was still considered a “nothing good could come” area. Not the worst, but not the best. We wanted a home, a place where we could have a family, have friends and guests, be hospitable, have ‘open doors’ for whoever needed a place.
Soon after we moved to Hamilton I started working for a local service agency and little did I know at the time that this actually hindered the lifestyle we wanted to live. This didn’t allow us to get involved in the community the way we wanted to because the youth in my neighbourhood were also my clients and that was a conflict of interest… Because of the immense need in the city of Hamilton and the area we were living in (and the constant fear of losing my job) there were very few people in my neighbourhood I could actually interact with. I was still pleased with my involvement in the area through my work, though our lives were not meeting our own expectations and our home was not serving the purpose we had expected it too. It didn’t help that the church we were attending wasn’t actually in downtown Hamilton.
Soon after this everything changed, I no longer worked in that job and had started my own business, we adopted our two children, Jon lost his job (which was also our church) and here we were in our home with new children. We had our home, and it was serving a different kind of purpose being a permanent placement for two children (through Children’s Aid Society) and we were starting to look for a new church community.
Sure, our lives looked very different than we had anticipated. The purpose of what our home was for, how our family was built (insta family of two to four within 10 days) and what our lives looked like. We still lived in our “what good could come” neighbourhood with our children. A place where schools weren’t great, houses were run down, crime was “just around the corner” and we were happy to raise our children where there was need. This is the kind of community we wanted to live in. Real life. A real city. Real people in a real neighbourhood. It looked different than we expected – but we were still there.
Fast forward to Christmas 2011. Jon had been commuting to his job for 9 months (1 hour each way, 5 days a week), Makaio had developed some needs that required special attention and care, my health was not very good… We needed to be close to family and we needed the time when Jon was commuting. I talk about these and other major reasons that we chose to put our house up for sale and move in other posts. The process took a while and by the time it went on the market, sold, closed, we found something new, and moved in, it was the end of August 2012. Here we were, in a townhouse in Meadowvale. A suburb in Mississauga, in a beautiful neighbourhood. Where the schools are excellent, the lawns are mowed, the crime rates are low, the houses are taken care of and we live somewhere we thought we would never raise a family…. A suburb.
We had been committed to living downtown in Hamilton long term. That is the city we wanted to raise our family in. We wanted to live downtown and we planned on raising our kids in the city. We’ve had to change our mindset so much and now it seems weird to say that I miss my “What Good Could Come” neighbourhood. But I do. I miss the sirens, the street parking, the lack of front lawn, everyone being outside and walking. I miss the one way streets, the coffee shops, the city, being on the water and the people. I miss the grit, the real life, the poverty. I miss Hamilton.
We left Hamilton for good reasons for our family that we feel are right, but oh, how hard it is to be here at times for other reasons. More on this soon… How do I balance my desire to be part of a “What Good Could Come” neighbourhood while at the same time needing to live where I do to be close to family for support, to be close to Jon’s work, etc.
What about you?
Where do you live? Why do you live there?
Jobs? Family? Location? Safety? Schools? Housing Market?
What brought you to the place you live?