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Our Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Our Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

In 2013, the doors opened at the House in Orange Mound welcoming women in the neighborhood in pursuing connection and mutual appreciation. Countless workshops, experts and volunteers have enlightened us and enhanced our quest for self-improvement and a capacity to work in community while promoting our lovely products.

A diagnostic, often required in business settings, was offered only recently to our ladies at My Cup of Tea. Personality tests are fascinating and though readily available in Memphis, the ladies had never been exposed to a personal diagnostic to explore core motivations, desires, and fears. Our ladies’ mentors agreed to examine material and provide this opportunity to enlighten them and acknowledge the singularity and value of each of the MCOT employees.

One of our volunteers has had years of coaching the nine profiles of the acclaimed Enneagram system and graciously led us through three workshops.  Each of the ladies recognized her own number type connected to a broad personality standard and the “wings” or ancillary personality types that are associated with it. With confidence each explained herself to our group. In a short while, we became amused by our differences in problem solving, communication, and social interaction. Our coach emphasized that we are providentially interacting as a body with essential, valuable, and irreplaceable members with problem solving skills.   All of us felt seen and respected. I loved the laughter and the nods of agreement. We concluded that we are free to embrace our personalities and characteristics identified by the test. They are vital to the furthering of God’s work for us in Orange Mound.

One is a Reformer and Idealist.

Two are Helpers and Caregivers.

One is an Achiever and Pragmatic.

Two are Individualists.

Two are Enthusiasts.

One is a Challenger and powerful.

One is a Peacemaker and always agreeable.

We are interlaced daily in a simple task of formatting and shipping our excellent tea to customers locally and in all fifty states. This safety, security, and peacefulness is our Dr. Jekyll from the Robert Louis Stevenson classic.

But there is more than tea on our minds. Every afternoon, upon walking out of the front door at The House in Orange Mound and stepping off the front porch, our collective consciousness shifts from comfort to caution. The ladies live daily among lawbreakers with guns and vendettas. Poor and heads of their households, they cannot be passive or ignore the dangers. All they hold closely is in jeopardy and their loved ones are vulnerable. They are stepping out to face our Mr. Hyde. 

Our neighborhood has an inordinate amount of crime unchecked. Last week our plight was tagged nationally when gun violence terrorized a block party a mile from our House in Orange Mound and death and injury ensued. The ladies knew more than the social media reports, because information is passed along the streets faster than the Internet. The personality types we had discovered and identified only a week earlier showed up and out.  A never-before and robust discussion in the kitchen with refreshing confidence in their positions held us all for 20 minutes and lunch waited.

The exchange began with scripture from Luke 10:29-37 and asking, “What does loving our neighbor look like in Orange Mound”?

Our Peacemaker led the discussion saying we must be agreeable and not call the police for small mess-ups. Our Loyalist said build a trusting and friendly relationship with neighbors who have children and help when able. The Challenger agreed and suggested we need to be proactive and intentionally cultivate safe neighbors. Our Helper said she had tried bridging often by sharing her resources. Our Reformer said it is possible, but a strategy must be informed and intentional.

The vision for a shalom community is being repeated in our prayers and in our conversations more often around the kitchen table. Passivity is no longer recommended.  Each of us should be a participant in reclamation and repair of our community but slowly and courageously. What was improbable now looks possible with the Lord and collaboration. We know He wills His Kingdom into full glory in Orange Mound.

While many people are fleeing our neighborhood, we remain to restore the peace and security once known here. In1878, many left Memphis, fearing the ubiquitous Yellow Fever. Those who remained cared for the sick, made house calls, and personified good neighborliness. Our city recovered and ten years later, Orange Mound was founded by many of those who prevailed through the epidemic.

Our crime statistics rival an epidemic now. Fear and resignation are no longer on the kitchen table at The House. We aren’t seeking a secret potion like Dr. Jekyll attempting to control Mr. Hyde. We are committed to the hard work long-term. We are growing in resolve to be the change agents and the harbingers of a new and better version of Orange Mound by thoroughly loving our neighbors.