I have a guilty pleasure: television dramas. I don’t usually take the time at night to watch, so I occasionally watch during the day online. One of the shows I like is called Harry’s Law. It’s about a lawyer (played by Kathy Bates) who moves her firm into the inner city of Cincinnati. She becomes part of the neighborhood by earning trust.Â The show quickly delves into the entanglements she finds herself and her employees in – defending gang members, bargaining with felons, hiring a thug (a rather likeable thug as a matter of fact) to protect her and her coworkers. She often must contemplate whether to turn someone in or defend them. They often have debates in their office about right responses and about the relationships that they’ve built in the community; conversations about justice versus compassion are very common.
In an episode called “In the Ghetto” they’ve brought up the topic of whether they should move. Now for those of us who in real life have chosen to plant our roots in the ‘hood, this conversation might sound familiar. When we’ve lost hope, when ministry seems too difficult, when relationships are too hard to build, when the negative influence appears to override the positive, we have these same conversations. Â Or maybe you are the loved one who has tried to talk someone OUT of relocating. Â Anyway, I was interested in where Hollywood would take this.
A few minutes from the end, Bates’ character has made a decision about the neighborhood and sums up very well how those of us who minister in inner-city neighborhoods feel:
“This neighborhood, despite all its faults, is in my blood now. Is there danger here? ok. pain? absolutely. But it’s in me, this neighborhood. The battles we wage, like the one we’re waging today, they matter.”
(there is then some discussion about Â who wants to leave the neighborhood… and then her colleague says this…)
“Maybe just as we go about our business fighting for everyone else, we need to take care of each other too. Maybe we’re not doing enough of that.”
He’s exactly right. It’s the only way we thrive when we are ministering to others, especially in settings that are exhausting. We take care of one another. With like-minded people around us, to be the body of Christ with us, we don’t have to move out when things get hard. The neighborhood is in our blood now, and the battles matter.