I Love the City Until…..

Boston from Federal Reserve Bank Building

Last night someone broke into our car. I foolishly left the windows down – just one inch, forgot to lock the doors, and didn’t alarm the car. It was a, what do you call it? A sitting duck? Open game?

Whatever the idiom, there was nothing to prevent someone from trying to get in.

We keep little in our car. Some coins for parking meters – a city ‘must-have’, Kleenex, and Altoids. Altoids were strewn across the passenger seat. Quarters and dimes were gone, the thief randomly leaving nickles. My husband found the car this way well past midnight as he went to pick up one of our kids from the airport.

We live in the city, and I love the city. I love the bustle. I love being able to walk to get coffee, walk to get groceries, walk to the subway that takes me just three stops to my place of work in downtown Boston.

I used to sing with gusto the song “You’re the God of this City” by Chris Tomlin. I sang these words and I thought I meant them:

You’re the God of this city.You’re the King of these people. You’re the Lord of this nation. You’re the light in this darkness.You’re the hope to the hopeless. You’re the peace to the restless.

Greater things have yet to come, And greater things are still to be done in this city.

And then I’d repeat. And the second time I sang it was with even more emphasis, sometimes a tear catching in my eye.

I love the city – until the city turns on me. I love the city until I find out we were robbed and every cupboard and every door and every closet is open, the thief frantically searching for valuables.

I love this city until someone tries to steal my car. I love this city until my neighbors wake me at 2:30 in the morning, their dog bouncing a fake bone across the wooden floor.

I love this city – until I don’t love it.

I love this city when it’s good to me, when I feel safe and alive.

And when I don’t – I hate it. I hate everything about it.

My love for the city is completely conditional.

And in this early morning, as I work through how I feel, and I’m tired, and all I want is to move far away I realize how much my love for God resembles my love for the city.

I love God when He’s good to me, when I feel safe and alive.

I love God – until I don’t love Him. Until I question everything about Him and shake my fist in His Almighty face, forgetting that He is the maker of the universe, He is the God of this city.

So I sit, face to face with all my ugly, with all my fickle, conditional, capricious love.

And as I sit I know without doubt that, unlike the city, God hears my cry, listens to my anger, and continues to pour forth unconditional love on my soul.

7 thoughts on “I Love the City Until…..

  1. Yes, I always believe I love God (and others) unconditionally until they do something I really don’t like at all and then I realize how conditional my love is. I’m constantly reminded at the moment to praise him and love him whether things go my way or not, to love others whether they are loveable or not. Hard to have your car burgled. Very yucky.


  2. I once attended a large ‘mega’ church in Oklahoma City because I was visiting and acquainted via school with the minister. They just built a new building and he was quite keen to show it off.

    The building was in the suburbs, and new the sanctuary was large and spacious. There were clearly marked signs pointing to the restrooms, the fellowship hall, and the sanctuary. There were hand sanitizer dispensers outside each door. The bulletin spelled out the order of worship clearly, and gave hints and the customs of the congregation. There was theater-style seating, with wide aisles and lots of leg room. The arm rests were padded and I could stretch out my legs comfortably. The minister was only a few meters from me, but they also had large projection screens so that I could opt to watch the sermon ‘larger than life’. And there were no troublesome hymnals to have to locate or share. All the songs were projected up on screens for all to see.

    My friend came up after the service SO very proud of his church and asked me my thoughts. In all honesty, all I could think of was “I just went to church and never touched anyone. My hip didn’t rub up against anyone’s hip. I never had to share a hymnal, or ask for help to locate things. I didn’t even have to look at the live ‘performance’ of either the minister or the worship leaders. I could do it virtually. This has been one of the loneliest worship experiences I’ve ever had.”

    It is experiences like this which make me love the city: the hassle and the congestion, the inconvenience and the need to deal with that which is less desirable. I want to touch and be touched. Even when it means risking harm. I want to get my hands dirty.


    1. Great thoughts Donna! I love how it is about touch and humanity, reminders of Jesus. And the reality is I too love the city. I wouldn’t live anywhere else, and I don’t fit anywhere else. But even when I love a place….there are times when I don’t. It’s the holy ache piece – the living between worlds.


  3. Bad things happen every where. BUT Good things happen everywhere also!! None of us can depend on anyone else to do the good things – we have to make them happen everywhere we go – in everything we do.

    When I am walking from my car into the grocery store – I don’t pass up the trash on the ground – I pick it up and deposit it in the can by the door.

    I raked someones yard the other day.

    I swept someones drive way last week.

    I baked a cake for the neighbors who work all the time and don’t have time to bake.

    Its not hard – use your imagination. Carry a bottle of windex and a roll of paper towel in your car and when you park at the bank – wash the windshield of the car next to you before you go in.

    Make good things happen every where you go to offset the bad things that others are doing.


  4. Reblogged this on Like Mendicant Monks… and commented:
    I love that Chris Tomlin song as well… Makes me proud to be worshiping in an urban Church! Two quotes come to mind. G.K. Chesterton said of patriotism, “I do not love a country/city because it is necessarily lovable. It is lovable because I love it.” I used this in my post on New York City. Also, “As harbors in the ocean, God established Churches in the cities; so that, fleeing from the confusion of life’s matters, we might enjoy serenity there.” St. John Chrysostom


      1. Oh this is hilarious! Cliff quoted that same St John quote on his facebook page. I mentioned there that I thought it was apt given your posting on life in the city…and here you say the same thing. I surely love you Marilyn!


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