Aiyana Taylor

Where are you from?

I was born is Tucson, Arizona and lived there till I was 8 years old. My family moved to Southern California when I was 8 and I lived there till I was 19, so I feel a mixture of home in both of those places.

What brought you to Chicago?

My husband and I moved here in a step-of-faith to start a church.

What do you find challenging about living here?

I think the most challenging elements of living in Chicago are the winters and minimal presence of nature. More than the actual physical difficulty of winter, I battle the cold and grey of winter mentally and emotionally. With nature, I can physically and emotionally feel the rejuvenation when I am around it so the concrete and city noises wear on me.

Why do you love it?

There are many reasons I love living in Chicago. I really enjoy being around the diversity of people. I am inspired and challenged by all the different life experiences, ideas, opinions and expressions. The seasons are another element that I love about Chicago, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter bring different moods and ways of existing. I also appreciate greatly all the high quality cultural experiences readily available in the museums, theaters, city events and parks.

Why do you stay?

I stay because God has entrenched my heart here in and for this city.

How has community affected your time here?

Community has greatly affected my time here, in wonderful enriching ways and also difficult ways. As in all real relationships your heart experiences joys and pains: growing and budding new relationships, ending of long-term deep relationships, strengthened friendships through trying times, heartbreak by close friends and rich family in unexpected places.

Can you speak into the creativity found in the Chicago community? How does it inspire you?

There is a ton of creativity here in the Chicago community. I have met a rich pool of creative people inspired by different passions and expressed in diverse ways. I have been inspired by the different journeys of each creative person and how it affects what they do and how they do it. I could write a book on this and all the different creative persons I have met.

When do you feel most empowered and comfortable in your own skin?

I feel the most empowered and comfortable in my own skin when I am connected to God. I know I am always connected to Him, but I am referring to those moments I am either inspired by His movement in my heart to do something or am pushed beyond where I would naturally feel comfortable.

Has living in the city affected your style and the way you approach what you purchase / invest in. If so, how?

Living in the city has affected my purchasing toward “less is more”. Before living in the city I was in more of a suburb situation and the thought of “bigger is better” and the feeling of never having enough was strong. I think boredom in the suburbs can feed the impulse to “buy stuff” as well. Living in the city is never boring, space is expensive and storage is limited. These 3 factors don’t allow you to buy things just for the sake of buying. It was a reorienting, but reorienting to a freedom from the lie that “stuff will satisfy you.”  Also my taste narrowing might be a factor as well.

How has Chicago affected your worldview, if at all?

Chicago definitely has affected my worldview. There is a richness of people, life experience, language, culture and opinion. Getting to personally know and converse with a diversity of people has changed my worldview.

I have learned that you can’t have an opinion on something that you haven’t experienced or are distant from. And I have come to humbly realize how much uneducated opinion I had and now have to always be awake and working on.

Do you have an experience or a specific encounter here that has moved you/stayed with you that you'd be up for sharing?

Good grief, there are many.

To only name a few I would say meeting a refuge family at World Relief here in Chicago, attending a poetry concert in Englewood where I felt the Kingdom of God so close I felt I could touch it, to seeing incredible art from across the world at the museums and showcased on stage at Millennium Park. These different experiences open and sometimes shatter ones day-to-day world while revealing the beauty of our diversity and richness available to us as a whole when we are willing to listen to, see and share our space with our neighbors.

Is there any scripture that's been on your heart / resonated with you lately?

Psalm 30, every word of it.

On the contrary, if you're experiencing closeness with God, how might you encourage our brothers and sisters who are wrestling with believing God is real and for us?

The sense of closeness and distance varies from day to day, week to week and month to month. My questions and thoughts during distance are usually “why?” and thoughts of doubt or frustration. There was also a time during distance when there was a word of “wait patiently and be of good courage”. This has remained something I have held onto in times of distance as I remember times past the faithfulness of His closeness to return at some point and also His faithfulness of never wasting the times of distance. This would be what I would encourage others with in times of closeness as well, that He is faithful, intentional and purposeful in all He does and in all seasons.