Last year I finally had the opportunity to live out my love for the great city of Seattle as I began attending Seattle Pacific University in the fall of 2009. I lived in the ritzy Queen Anne district of Seattle, just a 10 minute bus ride from downtown — the world-famous Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, the heart of the city. I am overwhelmingly a city girl. This. was. heaven.
But my neighborhood was rich; safe; vegetarian; hipster; a college bubble. I was so closed off from the reality of my beloved city. It’s difficult to know the reality of poverty when surrounded by million dollar homes. So I put my burdens for my city on a nice shelf in the far corners of my heart and quietly forgot about them.
Fast forward a year and one summer. September 2010.
I wasn’t going back to school because I didn’t have enough money. I was sad and frustrated and jobless (for a time). I helplessly cried out to God. What is going on? What do you want for me?
One Sunday night, I laid on the stone floor of St. Mark’s Cathedral with the sound of monk’s singing ringing in my ears. I looked up at the rafters, looking for signs or arrows. My heavy heart sank through my chest into the stone floor. My heart cried out desperately. Over and over again, I repeated, “Show me what You want me to do. Make it obvious.”
And in a clear voice, I heard my thoughts change, “Speak for those who have no voice.”
Wait.. what? That’s it? You were supposed to tell me what to do about school and college loans. That doesn’t begin to answer my question! I was frustrated.
Then I heard it again. Speak for those who have no voice. I couldn’t shake this thought. Over and over again it was repeated in my head.
But what does it mean to speak for those who have no voice? The answer will come later, He told me. This is all you need to know right now, baby girl.
I still don’t know.
Two years after God burdened my heart for my city, I was convinced God doesn’t burden hearts without reason. And here is what I do know: I cannot speak for those who have no voice if I do not know them and love them first.
I realized that night the great responsibility I have to love God’s people; to serve them; to be God’s hands and feet and heart. He wants us to show radical love to ordinary people — to hurting people, broken people, the people of my beloved city. I forget how much they are loved completely, overwhelmingly, and unconditionally loved by the King of the universe. Most days I give that responsibility to someone else. I realized it was time for me to step up and love the unlovable. It was time for me to love the city God put on my heart.