I was born and raised in San Francisco in the Tenderloin District. Being the youngest in my family, I remember my father walking me to school. Everyday I would see drug dealers, drug users, alcoholics, and prostitutes roaming the streets. As I got older, seeing this on a daily basis made me realize that the Tenderloin is a "drop-zone"; in other words, it is a district for people who can't adjust or go back into "normal" society due to their past - at least, for the few people I know in this community.
This was my upbringing... seeing a world where we stick to our own building walls to avoid conflict and pain; blocking out our defects and misfortunes with drugs, sex, and violence. Witnessing people lose their sense of humanity and self-respect is why we are paralyzed and stuck. It's so hard to ask for help or even pray for it. I know that for a fact, the selfish sin is being vainglorious and thinking of yourself as privileged or better than others - it's the comfort and resources in the Tenderloin that make it so. Pride breeds madness.
Being in my bubble of ignorance, I find comfort in this place instead of branching out because when I step out of my comfort-zone, I feel weak and vulnerable. I believe the same goes for any other district that make people complacent. Comfort is a disease. Not-willing to branch out of that bubble because you are use to your territory and your people. No surprises. No need to endure anything. Just give into comfort - join the club and smile.
But, what is life without trials & tribulations? Pain, rejection, & failure? We need these elements.
It's inevitable to avoid them. We are born to fall - but, getting up is the true test of character. James 1:12 always reminds me of this: "Blessed are those who endure when they are tested. When they pass the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." There was a moment in my life where failure was hard to bear and face; over-analyzing all my situations... it was so hard to understand why and where these trials were relentlessly coming from. It seemed as if life wanted to throw me down, so I caved in. I had a desperate need to blackout. I'll never forget the day falling on the Tenderloin streets, covered in my disgust, but numbed to the pain - a testament of waving a white flag. After that pathetic night and waking up... nothing changed. I only gained a new perspective. I realized that we all have a cross to bear - some are bigger than others, but despite the weight, it's still a burden. We have to have the faith and believe that we have worth and there is a reason to endure and to push through no matter what the cost.
- Issiah Johnson