A year in Miami — A call to “suffer with”

It has been more than a month and a half since I last blogged. I’ve been meaning to multiple times in past two weeks, but I had to think whole lot about it before I could actually sit here and write (And, my laptop refused to connect to wifi many times too).  Honestly, I still don’t know what to write.

Definitely, a lot of things happened since last blog post. I left home to go to orientation at Stony point, NY on August 19th (Wow, that was almost a month ago) and met many wonderful people in person, including my amazing housemates (Kelly, Lanier, Michelle, and Molly) and incredible site director, Heidi. And, two weeks ago I came to Miami, settled in Club Shirley (our house name), prayerfully decided on my placement at South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice and started working there.

The whole experience so far has been an emotional, spiritual roller coaster, if that makes sense. Not just because I left home and miss home (which I do — miss my family, my church family, friends, Charlotte as a whole – the season change, dancing trees, fireflies, and the list goes on) or because I don’t like Miami (which is not true because I love Miami with its diverse cultures, people, and beautiful ocean!) or even because I don’t care for my housemates (this also is not true — my housemates have been great blessings in this whole experience).

But, more so that God pushed me to be in places where I HAVE to entirely trust Him or otherwise I will crumble to pieces. He certainly has nudged me to open my eyes and heart bigger so that I can see what He does in this city, among people, and in the world. He shone light in my heart and faith to see the fear, walls, and vulnerabilities. I have been kicking and screaming, resisting every way to not trust Him. This sounds so horrible to me because I have prayed for so long that I can trust Him with anything in my life. And, once again, when all the strength left me to resist, conviction comes so that I can really listen to what God says. And, He seems to say, “suffer with” people around me.

As I listen to many people around me who have walked different paths of life, I do see many hurts, suffering, and pain just as much as joy, passion, and love. As I listen to the stories of faith journey with other believers, hear the news of those in our society being neglected and taken advantage of, and walked with workers on poverty wage strike last week (a cool and overwhelming experience of solidarity that I need to share, perhaps in another blog post), I hear God say, have compassion and suffer with people around me. Even if I do not have solution to fix their problems, even if I do not agree with every decision they have made or values they hold, even if I cannot experience the same thing they do physically or emotionally. I should be with and suffer with people. This is one of the hardest call to be in. The ministry of being present. Standing still, knowing that He cares and loves. And, I care and love because He does. That is being His hands and feet at this moment. I’m not good at this and it’s hard. His invitation to join Him in His ministry – not a church program, community outreach, or any other ministries that I could think of but other places that He works in daily – is incredibly difficult at times. But, I try to remember that He wouldn’t call me out to be harmed, but to be with Him, just as I asked.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

On a much lighter note, I am going to work on writing more regularly. Aside from these internal reflections, I do have really fun adventures at Club Shirley and all over Miami, navigating through public transportation and new job. But, for tonight, this would suffice. 🙂

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