At the beginning of last month a four-alarm fire completely destroyed an inner-city apartment building in which several of the kids from our community group lived. The apartment was razed, leaving them homeless, as well as several other families whose homes experienced serious water damage. While no one was hurt, these families lost everything (they don’t have insurance), and I wondered both how they would survive and how they would handle the situation.
Truthfully, they handled it really well.
I had already noticed that these kids and their parents seemed to display a sense of resiliency. They often talk about the hardships, struggles, or abuse they or their parents have experienced and how they are strong and fight through them. But this was the first time I had the opportunity to directly observe the resiliency of the community and individuals.
It was incredible.
Everyone was understandably upset, but they also displayed a resiliency as individuals that goes far deeper than my own. They accepted that these things happen and moved through it. Some of the kids worried that a fire might destroy their own home, but for the most part they remained wise in their mindset.
Even more than their individual resiliency, I was amazed by the way the community came together to support the fire victims. Support came in the form of individual donations, church donations, prayers, offers for housing, money from organizations, and more. By the time the donations had finished pouring in, the victims had all they needed and were supported with love. They took care of each other. The community itself was resilient.
People in the suburbs often put up literal or metaphorical fences around their own little homes and rarely interact with or get to know their neighbors. Not so in the city. Perhaps as a result of a different culture, closer proximity to one another, or simply out of necessity, for whatever reason this inner-city, predominantly black neighborhood is a true community.
They care for one another and know each other well during the best and worst times. Because they are more involved in day to day life, they can also rely on one another during the tragedies. You can’t have one without the other. Although they don’t always articulate that reality, you can tell they know it from the way they live their lives. Actually, I think they understand that truth more than most of the people I interact with regularly.
So often we look on the negative side of life and only talk about the bad things that tend to happen in this kind of neighborhood. There’s a positive to every situation and every culture. A big positive for these kids is their resiliency to life’s struggles and their sense of community. I’m inspired by them and wish to have more of my own resiliency and community.
All of the families affected by the fire have found homes and replaced most of their belongings. I’m thankful for the many people within and outside their community that took the time to care for them. We are so thankful that everyone has been supported so well.
Unfortunately some of the homes found for these families are not in the neighborhood, which means that those particular kids have been noticeably absent from our Monday community dinners. As a result we have been connecting with less teens than before, but we have been blessed with a group of younger kids that comes regularly. The change in average age has forced us to shift our focus, but we are thankful for the opportunity..
God has given these amazing families a resiliency and community that most people only hope to achieve. I wish that I could be more like them and dream that someday I can adopt those traits for myself.