What Mutuality Looks Like

Mutuality: having a reciprocal degree and feeling of (interest) between partners; the state derived from equality of (participation and contribution) in a relationship. – Urban Dictionary

 

By design, Love INC (In the Name of Christ) of Metro Tampa is intentionally relational. This means we foster mutuality; an even exchange in which both partners grow in relationship. Imagine the possibilities when you treat someone with respect and dignity, invest relationally with mutuality, and, over time, discover each other’s wealth of unknown skills and talents!

After our August 2019 return to Tampa, Ann and I had to face the reality of our long-neglected home. Well intentioned, postponed weekend projects and an overgrown yard became a tipping point. Where to begin to tame the jungle? We started with refinishing a warped front door and quickly felt overwhelmed with the enormity of the tasks ahead of two tired retirees.

In the midst of being overwhelmed, we recalled that David K. had recently replaced the door for one of our Portico Workforce Housing Solutions (PWHS) homes. These are homes for our ministry that bridges six motivated, employed men from the street to permanent housing in six months. In July 2016, David was our first PWHS tenant when our housing ministry opened and our first love story outcome; moving into his own permanent housing in December of that same year.

In July 2019, David’s plans to relocate fell through and he found himself homeless again. We agreed he could return short-term to get his bearings before moving on. We didn’t have an inkling of “what next” God had in His divine plan for David and for us. David agreed to meet with us and explore what handyman projects we had in mind and how, if at all, he could help. We shared the need for his help with refinishing our front porch and seeing what else he could help with.

We reached a written agreement with David that framed our project’s mutual understanding, expectations, compensation, and no conflict of interest, given his connection to Love INC. We quickly discovered David’s talents in all aspects of home improvements. He was dependable, organized, and a perfectionist who takes pride in his work product.

After he concluded refreshing our porch, David agreed to explore executing a landscape plan we had assembled in 2018 that was cost prohibitive.We mutually agreed to take one section of the plan as a test for his landscaping skills. He passed with flying colors.

Over time, David became a project partner and stakeholder, taking ownership in all aspects of a major landscaping project. On his own time, he conducted online research of low-maintenance plants best suited for full sun vs. the shade of our home. We grew in relationship and became project partners with David. He would research and suggest, and we would together decide on equipment needed for our project, including renting roto tillers and sod cutters to help “tame our jungle”.

David would arrive promptly at 8:30 AM after a bus ride from his home. We agreed to drive him home at the end of each day. That time together, taking, recapping our day, laughing, and planning the next day’s activities was transformational for all of us at multiple levels.

Lessons learned include mutual deserved trust. Over a two-month period of time, David “showed us his stuff.” In turn, we held up our end of the bargain as originally agreed. There were no surprises. We trust each other.

Mutual dignity and respect is the bedrock of beginning and growing a heathy relationship.

Our time with David underscores that Love INC guests have the opportunity to transform from chaos to shalom – lives lived as God intended. We found David to be a man of many skills and interests, which could be easily overlooked if we had not developed this relationship.

We are reaching the end of a very successful project with David, but not the end of the relationship. David has gained experience and a reputation for his skills and hard work. We have benefited from the hard work and skills. We all are proud of what was accomplished and the final results.

Imagine the possibilities when you treat someone with respect and dignity, invest relationally with mutuality, and, over time, you discover each other’s wealth of unknown skills and talents.

MD October, 2019

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