Aimee’s Story

Aimee Nanney

28

From Flint, MI, currently living in Grand Blanc

Aug. 14, 2013

“We are not alone in our circumstances, but we tend to be so blinded by ourselves sometimes and forget to truly listen to what someone is saying.”

When I first heard about the Flint Stories Project, I was intrigued. I read through some of the stories and was just blown away. I knew I had to be a part of this project. I love my city and wanted to get to know the people that nobody wants to know. So here I am, ready and willing to sit and really hear who these people are, where they come from, hear their struggles and their triumphs. Being a part of this will change my mindsets and break my heart for my city.

Aimee standing on top of a parking structure in downtown Flint

Aimee standing on top of a parking structure in downtown Flint

I grew up on the Southside of Flint a few blocks from Cody Elementary and I was a proud Cody Cougar.  I loved walking to Ron’s Ice Cream and getting an ice cream cone bigger than my head. I’ve lived here for 26 years and the other two years I lived out of state and my heart ached not being in Flint.

When I was 15, I started attending Riverside Tabernacle downtown Flint and was instantly involved in ministry. I worked with kids, and teenagers and we would walk downtown handing sack lunches to not just the homeless but anyone who was hungry. My heart for the city and its people was growing and nothing could stop it.

I loved that my city was imperfect and flawed. That just meant there was room for God to move. Where we have perfection we don’t feel the need for change, but when we see the potential for growth anything is possible. I felt like my life and city were one.

I grew up in a family of five and there were times we didn’t have the food we needed, but we survived. My dad died when I was very young and my mom remarried. My step dad was somewhat controlling and at times abusive. I look back now and see how hopeless things were and how I felt I had no control. Somewhere along the way I decided that the outcome of my life would be different even if I had to fight through the moments of my life were it felt like I was drowning. I found hope and clung to it with everything I had. And I knew sharing my story would help someone else who felt they didn’t have a voice.

But I’m thankful for every moment I have lived through. It has made me who I am. I have learned to love people regardless of where they are from or where they are at in life.

When I was in my early 20’s I was able to go into the Flint schools and share my story, share my struggles and tell these kids that they don’t have to let their past dictate their future. I remember one girl who after our program walked up to me and just hugged me and said thank you. When she embraced me I just knew that she had a story to tell herself and just needed someone to stop and listen.

I think sometimes we are afraid to share who we really are because we think we are alone in our circumstances. I learned to stop and really hear what these teens had to say. Some stories broke my heart and some encouraged me, but just sitting there and hanging out with teens that walked the same school halls that I did meant something to them and changed me forever.

We all have a story to tell, but so do the people we walk by every day. We are not alone in our circumstances, but we tend to be so blinded by ourselves sometimes and forget to truly listen to what someone is saying.

I desire to live a lifestyle of hearing, truly listening to what people are sharing. I may not have the answers, and I may not always be able to relate but sitting down and focusing on another human heart and hearing about their struggles, heartbreak, victories, joy, passions and just simply hearing what they are saying will change and mold my heart into the person God is longing me to be.

We are called to love, and love is patient. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life but there are so many people out there that live in silence, because we are too busy to stop and hear what they have to say.  I’m so excited to be a part of the Flint Stories Project. We have such a misconception of the people we pass by every day, and I want to get to know these people. I want to hear about their journey.

My passion for the city of Flint and its people will only grow with every story I hear. Let us live lives of hearing and not always speaking.

This is the eighth story in the Flint Stories Project. Please continue to check back for more stories. Feel free to contact us at Flintstories@gmail.com.

Everyone has a story. We are listening.

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