It’s been said that perception is everything. It isn’t so much what we see, but how we see it. A stubborn person is a pain to one, and a model of steadfastness in another. A dandelion is a weed to some, and to others a useful plant (it’s leaves are often found in your grocery store salad mixes!) A teenager selling drugs on the corner is the blight of a community to one, and a potential entrepeneur and business owner to another. The truth is that all of these things are true. They are different aspects of the same things. What dictates how we respond to those aspects is how we see them.
This little principle is applicable to so many things in life, but in the realm of community development it is foundational. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of different things: prostitutes who turn into community leaders, school teachers turned into crackheads, drunks turn into pastors, juvenile delinquents turn into business leaders. Now there are many reasons for these changes, but in the positive ones there has always been a common thread…someone saw them. They didn’t just see a hooker, a drunk, a thug… they saw the gifts and potential that were created in them. They saw them for who they were and who they could be, not who they seemed to be in the midst of their brokenness.
We see the reality of our community and the people of it. Good, bad, and ugly…we try to see it all. It’s because of this that we can know there is hope for our neighborhoods and the families within. Hope becomes reality when there is a pathway to accomplishing it. In order for that path to be real and viable, it has to start from an honest place. We might not like what that starting point looks like, but we stand on the beauty of where we end up.
This old, beat up, and nasty house symbolizes this to me. It was generously given to us by a local couple and we’re grateful for that! In it, we see the ugliness of the neighborhood… homeless squatters, junkies, kids getting high, and all other manner of things. In it we also see the opportunity to transform it into something beautiful that represents the hope we see in San Jacinto. I know that, with our community’s help, that hope will be manifested in the renovation and restoration of this property… and that’s just the beginning.