This blog is of a different style. Guest writer, Davis Moore, shares a powerful personal anecdote of love and courage, a reminder that positive deviance takes many forms.
Eight years ago, in 2009, my life was completely different than it is now. I was addicted to prescription drugs and didn't care that I was destroying my body. During that dark period of my life, I met my friend Jonathan. I didn't know it yet, but Jonathan would eventually become one of my closest friends, a roommate, business partner, and family. Jonathan taught me to want God’s best in my life, no matter how hard the road may be.
In August of 2013, Jonathan and I were sharing an apartment in Reno, Nevada. This apartment, and mine and Jonathan's friendship would be a catalyst in changing the lives of many people in our area. Before Jonathan and I moved into our apartment, we had discussed the idea of community living; I was uncomfortable with the idea, and said that it wasn't for me.
Community living is a family-style home with an eclectic cast of characters, something along the lines of an apartment building meets Full House. As a community, we do life together, eat together, and most importantly, treat each other as family. When Jonathan first approached me with the idea of a Community House of our own, I was afraid that it would encroach upon my privacy, take away my sense of control, and pull me out of my comfort zone. I was right. Living with people that I barely knew would mean sacrifice, and I wasn’t interested at all. After nine months of living in our apartment in downtown Reno, Jonathan and I decided to purchase an investment property together, as a way to plan for our futures. I liked the idea of having a home, and was excited about having something so significant that I could call my own.
We began our hunt for homes in Reno, though our options were limited due to a competitive market. Eventually we found the right property, and I was ecstatic-until Jonathan stated that he wanted to make the house into a men’s community home. I was completely unnerved and wanted to quit the whole process. What was once supposed to be a safe space suddenly left me feeling vulnerable and apprehensive. As we were in purchase negotiations, I remember sitting on the couch in our apartment, tears flowing, adamant that I couldn’t move forward. I was scared, and felt as if everything was piling on top of me. I was comfortable living my life in a apartment, where I was in control of my environment. Thankfully, despite my feelings, Jonathan and I moved forward.
Six months prior to our home buying endeavor, we met a man named Tim. Tim found himself living on the streets of Reno, after relocating to the city be closer to his son. I still remember the first time I met Tim. His arms were covered in tattoos and his unkempt beard made him look something akin to an axe murderer in a movie. Tim told us of his past as a Satanist, which left me unnerved and scared. I judged Tim without knowing him. My fear and apprehension didn’t give him a chance to prove to me how far he had come, and he could tell. I avoided him like the plague. One day as I came home from work, I found Tim passed out on our couch, waiting for his laundry to dry. Jonathan asked me to stay home and wait with Tim; I was not ready to be with him alone, but Jonathan had to work that afternoon, and there was no other choice. As Tim and I waited, we had our first conversation- as I like to call it, our “heart ice breaker.” We didn’t talk about anything serious; he told me that he liked to cook, and we talked about his favorite TV shows. These awkward conversations would continue on for months, and little bits at a time, they would take my heart and begin to make it softer. Tim eventually got a job and moved into a weekly motel, not far from our apartment.
Fast-forward six months to Jonathan and I purchasing our home. The friendship that Jonathan had with Tim, much like Jonathan's friendship with me, was an investment- and Jonathan was committed to helping Tim succeed. As part of Tim’s next steps to getting on his feet, Jonathan told me that he'd offered Tim a room in our home. I felt blindsided, as if a moving truck had hit me at high speed. I'd slowly grown comfortable with the idea of our community house, but Jonathan's inclusion of Tim took that comfort and drove it off a cliff. Jonathan assured me that he was going to take responsibility for Tim, and that I wouldn’t have to worry about anything, but I remained apprehensive. Tim's and my relationship had come quite a ways, but I certainly wasn't ready to share a home with him. Nevertheless, we moved into our new house, and began to make it a home; we put up blinds, bought furniture, and appliances.
The day Tim moved in, I stayed in my room, and continued to stay out of direct contact for weeks. I thought that if I avoided him, and made him feel uncomfortable, that he would move out. I remained unhappy, and as we dealt with our own growing pains as a community, I considered leaving the home altogether and finding a place of my own. As time went on, we worked out many of our differences, and learned to communicate. I felt that I needed to have a talk with Tim. I knew that if I didn't apologize and clear the air, I would not only destroy our home environment, but that Tim and I would never develop a healthy relationship, and that his view of me, a Christ-follower would leave a truly sour impression. Later that month, we sat down and I told him everything. I told him about how he thoroughly intimidated me both in appearance, and with his former practice as a Satanist; even though he had stepped away from his past, I told him my fears about how that could still impact me, and the spiritual environment in our home. I told him every thought and every insecurity, and at the end of that night, he said, I love you.
I was astonished that after going into detail about how I had judged and avoided this man, he still has the capacity to love me. From that moment, my heart completely changed towards him. Every week or so we would meet for coffee, and talk about our dreams, and give each other encouragement. Life at our house changed drastically for the better, and our friendship continued to grow. Tim became one of my closest and dearest friends; he would - and still does- encourage me to do more and be a better person. He would challenge me to go for God’s best for my life, and I do the same for him. I went with him to court to be his advocate to gain custody of his son, was the cheerleader by his side, and I strive (to this day) to show him the love and grace that he has shown me.
A year and half later, I can honestly tell you that community living is worth every sacrifice. It’s worth every tear; it’s worth every frustration, every apprehensive moment and worry.
My friend Tim has forever changed my life, not only how I look at people, but the grace of living in community. The process wasn’t easy going, but I’m beyond thankful for the journey. I've not only experienced heart transformation, but gained a family in the process- I will freely admit that Jonathan was spot on. A community is not only unified, but gathers with heart. A community gathers to change, to give hope, to give faith, and most of all, love. Tim will always be a part my life, and someone that I’m grateful to know. I have been challenged in my perceptions of people, and encourage others to let go of their fears. Stop for the one man or woman on the street. You never know how that person might change your life, how you can change theirs, and you never know how your actions could change the world.
Davis Moore is recent graduate from Hult International Business School with a Masters Degree in Social Entrepreneurship and holds a Bachelors of Arts in Biblical Studies. Davis Co-Founded a men’s community home in 2014 to serve the purpose of building community within the Reno -Tahoe area in Nevada. In 2016, Davis moved to New York City to pursue his passion for people and innovation. Early this year in 2017 Davis joined Tribeca Film Festival and Disruptor Foundation as a Project Manager for Co-Founder Craig Hatkoff.