They Call Me Philly



They call me “Philly” because they don’t really know what it means.  They don’t know that I was taught to fight first.  My natural bent is to come out verbally swinging and ask questions later.  I was taught to handle things in a way that produces the desired outcome, and sometimes that goes against what society thinks is acceptable. 

“There is something about Upper Darby. 
It gets under your skin.  
It assaults you by refusing to coddle you- 
then it stays with you for life”.   
Maria Panaitis

When I read this quote for the first time, I was left stunned.  This was it.  This is the place that helped shape who I am today.

Upper Darby is a part of Delaware County, Delco for short. A suburb of Philadelphia.  It’s not in the streets of Philly but we have a grit unto our own. It’s not everyone from there, but there are a good number of us who have the same thought process.  We love hard, we fight hard and God help you if you hurt those we love.  It’s arrogance and posturing at it’s best or.... it’s worst. 

People think they love the idea of the “Philly” that comes out in the form of truth that no one else will tell them.  They don’t understand that for those I love, I will try to move mountains, but for those I don’t, I can cut them to the bone with my tongue. 

Whereas you might turn a blind eye to open conflict, we do not.  We don’t go looking for it but we don’t shy away from it either.  Conflict doesn’t intimidate us.  We are confident we can hold our own in most situations. We have had a lot of practice. Should there be a situation that comes along where we think we might not be able to gain the upper hand, we can fan our feathers to present our strength and beauty.  It usually leaves people in a state of wonder or disbelief of what they are seeing, enough to completely distracted them from the doubt in our eyes. 

So you see, they call me Philly and love the idea of it because they have no idea that I without Christ, I can be assaulting to their tender sensibilities.   

 With all of that being said, now how does one reconcile this with a being a follower of Christ.  The answer is rather simple but watching it play out can be a bit messy.  Paul describes it as a “war”.  When he speaks of the war in his members, he was talking about the fight between Spirit and Flesh.  Then in Galatians, we read: 

"For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, 
and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, 
for these are opposed to each other, 
to keep you from doing the things you want to do." 

The fight between Spirit and Flesh is as real as anything I can feel, touch, taste or smell.  My flesh can be strong and on some days unrelenting.  There are days when all my Philadelphia flesh is loud, proud and on display, for all to see. Sinful to say the least. 

 Then there are other days when the presence of the Holy Spirit lights up the even the darkest of places.  There are days when the Spirit speaks words of love and comfort that do not come naturally to me.  There are moments when the Lord uses this willing vessel to speak the truth that leads to life through Christ.

The first time I heard the Gospel I knew it was truth.  I was not swayed by false promises of an easier life. I was not moved by dramatic preaching.  It was the very presence of God that drew me in.  When you understand that the purest love you will ever know is Jesus Christ, how can you not be moved?  There is a peace in not having to try to be something that you aren’t and know that He loves you anyway. 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  2 Corinthians 5:17

I hear people quote this scripture and tell me that once I accepted Christ all those things from my past are gone.  This is not truth.  I am a new creation in Christ and I am still the girl with all the Delco grit.  

How is this possible though?

This scripture is not about wiping out my personality, it’s about no longer being a slave to sin.  I now have the ability through the Holy Spirit to recognize sin and choose holiness.

Choosing holiness: it’s a thing I have struggled with for as long as I have known Christ.  My way vs. His way.  Even knowing that He can outdo me in all things, beauty, force, and strength, etc...   He can change the very hearts of men!  I have nothing that can compare to all that He is and yet there are still days I fight against him. 

So even though there are some that don’t know all that it means to call me Philly, I know and the Lord knows.  He knows and he chooses to love me in spite of my Philly flesh and Delco Grit. Not only does he love me as I am, but he has also provided the way for me to grow in the ways of holiness to be more like Christ.  I will never attain a sin-free life this side of Heaven, but I will press on toward the goal leaning into the power and the presence of Christ. 

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