I’ve been working at Calvary for a little over two months. In many ways it feels like I have been here longer, and at the same time I’m also still figuring out all the small details. The beginning of April marked a year from my last day at The Magazine, what a change twelve months can make.
About three years into my work at The Magazine I started to get uncomfortable with the focus of what I did. I loved photography, but perpetuating a lifestyle that seemed well, really shallow, started to bother me.
Somewhere between twenty-four and twenty-six what I wanted and valued started to look different. Frankly, becoming a person who believed in Jesus made it challenging to buy into selling the lie that a bigger house, a thinner body, better clothes, and outrageous vacations were the epitome of living well and the only way to live well. I loved all the beautiful things I photographed and the wonderful people I met, but the focus being singularly on bettering oneself just for selfish ambition started to weigh me down. I decided my purpose in my role was to do excellent work and try to be loving to people I came into contact with.
Sometimes I met really broken people: the woman with botched plastic surgery who’s husband was leaving her, the small handful of men who’d make sexual comments to me while I tried to work, narcissists, people who pretended like real pain or suffering wasn’t theirs to fix or help despite a position of unbelievable privilege.
The fact of the matter is that caring about people genuinely is exhausting, but good work. God’s work. The tricky thing about Jesus is that He’s about justice. That will shake up your life. It did mine, I was a terribly superficial high schooler who thought the best thing I could do would be to live in Manhattan and be rich. Thank you Jesus for a better way.
Calvary is a Narcotics Anonymous hub for Minneapolis. We have NA meetings every single day except for Sunday. Where I sit allows me to visit with and see people off to their meetings. Everyday that I’m at work, brave and real people walk into Calvary to attend their meetings. Sometimes they come with a child or friend. They are all colors, all ages, all classes, all faiths, no faiths. The realness and openness of these people- their bravery to come and get help for their challenges is breathtaking.
Some days people come and sit in our sanctuary. They pray, read the Bible, sometimes weep. Twice a week neighborhood kids come and get tutored and enjoy a meal together. Because there’s construction going on right now, each morning I am greeted by someone working on that project, and I’ve had the pleasure of showing some of them around our 131-year-old sanctuary. During service we have a portion of time where members of the congregation can stand up and share a prayer request, praise, or bit of protest. People sometimes call me for help with rent, sharing stories of how they might be facing eviction. Or they might ask if the church can help provide a car seat for a new mama who can’t afford one. Real people, real situations, real realness.
To see people operating out of authenticity and humility like that is refreshing. It is exactly why I am so glad that God changed my heart and focus. Because this is more beautiful than any perfectly decorated home or restaurant opening.