Hi. My name is April Culp. I am the Client Services Director at YCR. 5 years ago, my husband and I moved from Texas with a calling and inspiration to pursue the idea of community. I have always been a passionate person, to a fault at times. Yet, of all the things I am passionate about (cooking, traveling, empowering people, cultivating lifestyles of rest, making space for creativity, making things pretty, health, nature, etc.) investing in local community is pretty high up there. Let me tell you why through the lens of my time at YCR.
I’ve had the honor and privilege of dialoguing with countless women through their pregnancy journeys—some exciting and joyful, others difficult and confusing. No matter the circumstance, pregnancy can be hard and the days are long (trust me, I know!), especially if you lack support. It’s an entering into the unknown, where the illusion of any control you have over life, your body, decisions, destiny are challenged by God’s creative birth life—the process of being formed, knitted, purposed and released. That process isn’t perfect and clean. It’s messy and it takes patience, energy, and a little (or a lot) of pain at times. Pain isn’t comfortable. Messiness can be discouraging. As Emily Freeman says in her podcast The Next Right Thing, “You carry something living inside you. There will be pain to get it out.”
Because of the messiness and uncertainty surrounding pregnancy and pregnancy decisions, I’ve often found myself searching for defining answers and quick solutions for the women we see. Yet, over and over, from their stories, through our conversations, and the friendships we’ve built, I’ve learned that their need, my need, our greater human need for that matter is far more encompassing than a single topic, class, or curriculum. Hidden beneath the layers of niceties and small talk, a few common questions echo from their hearts, “Will I have to endure ‘this’ (i.e. season of life) alone? Who will sit with me in my doubt, confusion, fear, insecurity, fractured habits?” Notice that I didn’t say who will FIX me and all my problems but rather, who will SIT with me in and through the unknowing. And still, although we here at YCR interact daily with women, men, and young adults struggling through these questions, I find myself desiring a “magic bullet”—a one-size fits all one solution to fix, redeem, tidy up and put back together—something to make the hurting and questions go away.
However, as I now navigate my own pregnancy, and sit in my own season of unknowing, sometimes riddled with my own fears and insecurities, I realize that one of the driving forces behind me navigating this season with peace is a community of support cheering me on along the way. Their simple words of encouragements: “you can do it” or “you are doing a great job” echo in my heart to push onward with courage.
All that said, it’s more clear to me than ever…community isn’t something attained in a book or a magic bullet answer, but rather it’s lived out in the “parenthesis” of life—the Mon-Sat, day-to-day grind where we sit with people in their unknowing as friends, not as projects. In that [safe] space, where people are supported by relationships that prove “for better or worse” and given permission to fail forward, we begin to see black and white turn to color, lives get rooted in character, and creativity becomes a byproduct of discovering and walking with the Creator. I believe that our society/culture isn’t dealing with an abortion problem, immigrant problem, a clean-water problem, a global warming problem, we are dealing with a community and a heart problem. Yet, Jesus gives us a solution, “No one has ever gazed[l] upon the fullness of God’s splendor.[m] But if we love one another, God makes his permanent home in us, and we make our permanent home in him, and his love is brought to its full expression in us.” Just as Jesus became the Living Expression of love to His neighbors, so we have the capacity to do so as well.
What does it look like for you to be a living expression of His love for your neighbor today?