BY LAURA BELL
A few weeks ago, I peeked inside the After School Program to see what all the fuss was about. I watched as the staff and volunteers played pick-up basketball with several boys and as a huddle of girls gathered around and listened closely in admiration to one of the volunteers who simply noticed them. After a few short moments, I realized what I was really seeing. I saw time – a gift and an investment that not only creates, but sustains the relationships that are the foundation of this amazing place called Common Ground Montgomery.
As the “new girl” on staff I am discovering that only 10 years ago, this place and its small staff (at the time) was the new ministry in town. I find comfort knowing that CGM’s beginning and mine perhaps share similar experiences. A shared feeling of being unsettled combined with the effort of reaching and (sometimes) missing, along with the anxiety and discomfort of being in a new, uncharted place. That’s when the gift of time steps in and the places that felt so stark and new have a lived-in feel, like my favorite pair of tennis shoes. A sense of direction and a joyful expectation of good replace the nerves that once sought to overwhelm my peace and confidence.
Today, the children who are a part of the ministry of CGM don’t have to wonder what they are doing after school or if the staff and volunteers love them. The newness and uncertainty is gone and home has been found in a little building in the middle of the Washington Park neighborhood, and this new girl has discovered that the newness inside of her spirit is a beautiful season filled with God’s unending distribution of peace. I used to think that I understood honesty. I used to think that life wasn't complicated if you just “did the right thing”. I used to think that loving a person who didn't think like me was too hard. I used to think that I understood how to love people well, speak to them clearly, give honest answers, and share the gospel… I used to think a lot of things until I became the new girl at CGM.
I've found a culture of people who think beyond my initial thoughts, a group that holds beautiful ownership of their values, and live out their hearts through service and love to a community well deserving of the Lord and His goodness.
In my 3 short months here I have learned the value of walking into places that seem awkward initially and discovering the places of my heart that have never been touched, but merely masked by the idea that faith is or should be comfortable. Nothing is comfortable when it’s new, but nothing changes or becomes anything spectacular without journeying through the new places and finding home instead.