At the end of this month, David and I will mark 3 years as Chattanooga residents. That doesn’t feel like a very long time as we compare it to our 20-plus years in the Nashville area. We still think of ourselves as newbies in both our neighborhood and our church, and as newbies, we haven’t required ourselves to be as involved in our communities as “older” members should be.
In today’s face-paced society, time should be counted in dog years. That would
make Copper–and our residence in Chattanooga–21 years!
David and I live in a so-called transitional neighborhood. It was built between 1890 and 1930 by lumber barons, railroad magnates, and their socialite wives. Most architecture is Victorian or Arts and Crafts, now in varying levels of dilapidation or renovation. Today’s residents are diverse in age, race, and socioeconomic levels. College students party on one side of us in a poorly maintained rental property; 80-year-old “original” residents are behind us in a neat-but-needy house their parents built. Across the street is what I call the Blue Behemoth: a brand-new three-story craftsman-style row house built by a young family. Diagonal from us is one of many group homes in our neighborhood serving the mentally challenged, and down the block is a public magnet boarding school for at-risk girls from surrounding neighborhoods.
Our church is likewise diverse; we are majority minority, serve all ages, and count both the homeless and a millionaire private-collection wine buyer (how do I get that job?) as our brothers and sisters.
Maybe it is because the diversity of our Chattanooga life barely resembles all our years in suburbia that we didn’t notice when we “transitioned” from newbies to minted residents. In just three years we’ve become the longest residents on our entire block; and in our 5-year-old church, we’ve attended longer than maybe 80% of the congregation. David and I realized this at a Thursday-night gathering where we sat at a table for 10 and discovered we have lived in Chattanooga more than a year longer than anyone else there. We were shocked. And convicted.
We have spent our Chattanooga time consumed by our personal transitions, most notably my work restoring this house and my 3 surgeries. We have not used our spiritual gifts of hospitality to serve our neighbors (new and old) as we should have, and we are resolving to correct that in 2018. It is past time that we go out and serve our neighbors instead of waiting for them to welcome us.
Consider: What gifts have you been neglecting?