I sometimes struggle to put into words ideas and concepts that are newly on my radar. Or not just on my radar, but even ideas and concepts that have become a big part of my life. So, please excuse my awkwardness.
I’m from Iowa. Iowa, as a whole, is not very diverse. I stayed in Iowa for college. There were definitely students of many races and ethnicities. And usually, those differences were obvious. Socioeconomic status, on the other hand, was much less obvious. But I’m sure those differences existed among students at my undergrad, as well. I’m just not sure quite how diverse sweet ol’ Iowa State University really was.
Moving to St. Louis brought about a succession of quick changes in my experiences, views, and perspectives. I’ve participated in exercises that have pointed out how much privilege I have as a white, young adult from an upper class family. I live in a city that has, on average, a larger black population than most communities. I dove into a graduate program that addresses head on issues of diversity and disparity. My church recently moved to a building in a zip code with a racial breakdown of 56% African American and 40% Caucasian. My workplace probably has a pretty similar breakdown.
Now, fully settled here in St. Louis, issues of diversity stick out to me less in some ways and more in other ways. A few weeks ago in our Bible study was one of those “more in other ways” times.
Our group is made up of mostly newcomers to the church. If someone starts coming to church and wants to get connect to a Bible study, ours is often recommended to them. Our group has grown significantly since it started in January, and it’s been way fun to listen to the people in our group open up about their pasts and presents.
In our group, men have shared about pasts dealing drugs on the streets of our city. The need for better jobs, more secure housing, higher pay comes up regularly. Sometimes group members can’t contribute to our weekly meals because of financial strain. And others rejoice in the ability to serve our group by bringing extra food. And in group, we have a Christian rapper. (His music is seriously my favorite for working out these days!) We have a woman who works long hours at fast food restaurants, we have people who are still searching for a full-time job, and we have people without cars.
I loved my church/friend community at Iowa State. I really did. And I regularly miss it and ache to go back just for a little bit. I always wish I had known Dan in college, so he could experience the sort of awesome conversations we had.
But there’s something to be said for community Dan and I get to participate in together now. This community that is made up of kids running around, and young adults, adults, and grandparents engaged in Gospel conversation. Dark brown, pink, and light brown skin. Master’s students, med students, musicians, stay-at-home moms, lunch ladies, graphic designers, and fast food workers. I enjoy it so very much.