Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer
I’m moving today…for the 23rd time in eight years. I know, I know, that sounds a little crazy. But it’s also very true. I’ve lived in cramped studio apartments, college dorms, rat-infested houses, other people’s guest rooms, century-old row homes, and even in a mansion. But I have never once been able to call one place my very own. I don’t decorate, I don’t arrange furniture well and truthfully, I don’t think I’ve truly unpacked all of my belongings since 2005.
There were parts of that lifestyle that were so appealing. If I didn’t like the small kitchen, it was fine because it was only temporary. If the toilet or showerhead broke, someone else paid for the repairs. Bad roommates? I was out in three months. I could fit almost all my stuff into my tiny Honda.
But there were gaping holes in my life when I was constantly in flux. My relationships could only reach shallow levels since I never knew when I was leaving a place behind. My mind constantly chased the “next big thing.” Because I hadn’t committed to a place for long-term, I never settled into a job long enough to genuinely invest. Community? How do you build community without consistent neighbors?
So many of the people that I interview here live a life in flux. Some are forced from their homes because of overdue mortgages or abusive relationships or something as simple as bed bugs. Some live on the streets because of loss or addiction or mental illness. Life happens. But at some point, their trials led them to Denver Rescue Mission, to community. For most of our program participants, this is the first time in years or even decades that they have found stability in the midst of a wandering lifestyle. Some have been craving it without knowing it and relish in the new support system. Some try to put up a privacy fence around themselves, keeping others out. I relate to the second group.
Can I be honest? I’m scared – terrified even – to grow roots and settle down. Life is so much easier when you get to start over every couple months. It’s like getting a bunch of second chances at being the person you want to be and ignoring all the mistakes you made in that last place. But, because of my conversations with our program participants, I’ve realized that this is a completely unrealistic way of living life. What is life for if not for connecting with others, building community and growing together in Christ? How do I improve without the insight and experiences of others? The people I meet each day remind me that even though community is hard, raw and honest, it’s also the only way any of us are going to make it.
Not one person I’ve interviewed has said: “Yes. Living a life of isolation was WAY better. I hate having all this help.” Sure, it was more difficult for some to embrace community living with a smile. But I can guarantee that each of them would tell you that the tough conversations, the probing and unwelcomed questions and the intentional prayers are the sole reason they are living a self-sufficient lifestyle today.
Many people call Denver Rescue Mission home for a season in their lives. They are changed forever by Christ. It’s because of these stories that I welcome this permanent and hopefully final move. I’ve chosen Denver. I’ve chosen these people. And as scary as it is to anchor my feet somewhere, it gets less scary when I realize it’s at Denver Rescue Mission.