Creating Community Day by Day: A Reflection on my Birthday

This is my birthday week, for the curious my birthday is this Saturday (MAY 23RD), and it has been an interesting week.

Birthdays always get me reflecting because it’s another year of life spent and I at least like to think I lived it well. At the very least I like to think I developed as a person–mind, body, and soul.

I have really been reflecting on community. It seems many conversations have brought up community to some extent. Even today my friend said that one of her visions of community is people dancing together especially spontaneously as we sat listening to live music in the Boston Commons. And as you know, dear readers, community has been a frequent theme on this blog, from the Bible women play I was in to camp to struggles to find it and places that have truly become homes. Community is a rich part of the Christian religion and it is something I think all true Christians strive for even as we make mistakes in pursuing it.

Birthdays are a way of connecting people and creating community, as well as connecting a pre-established community as they come together and celebrate another year in a precious member’s life.

This week my roommates took me out for dinner to the Coolidge Corner Clubhouse (highly recommend by the way) and J. P. Licks. We laughed, took selfies, prayed together, ate together, and they blessed me with beautiful gifts.

I asked my Facebook friends to send cards and a few people asked for my address, and I’ve already received one in the mail.

One of my best friends hung out with me and bought me Ben and Jerry’s and then the next day (tonight), we went into Boston to get dinner (delicious delicious falafel) and see Pitch Perfect 2 (aca-hilarious, by the way), and this dear friend overwhelmed me with her generosity by paying for almost everything.

My family will be throwing me a little home party to celebrate since I wanted to do something, but small this year. And S, dearest S, is going to spend the weekend with me, as usual, and take me out to a place I well love, but have only been with him once before in Quincy and I’m very excited to go back.

And of course with my birthday still 2 days away there is still a chance for many more joys and surprises. It’s awe inspiring when I began the week feeling rather blah about my birthday and in general. I woke up every morning and I prayed and read my Bible and I said to God, today this day belongs to you and each day he has renewed me afresh either by giving me an opportunity to love someone in my own unique fashion or as I’ve spelled out been loved by others.

And I am reminded of community of being a person who is loved and loving and having people in my life who are grateful that I was born. My roommate said that to me, really consider that. If I hadn’t been born there would be some other person here. That is kind of mind blowing, because I am here in this life, in these shoes.

And I am reminded that it might not be the way I want it or envision, but I have community today, and each day I can work towards creating the community of my dreams.

Sometimes my biggest struggle as a Christian is expecting I will be perfect. That sounds a little ridiculous. But it’s true. I expect if I keep waking up and praying and being faithful one day I’ll ¬†wake up with the right character, and the thing is it’s true. But the other truth is that I also have to go through the growing and reshaping and that takes time.

Creating community, creating godly people takes time. I was struck by this Scripture the other day:

They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2: 42-47

I know this is not what my church looks like currently, and what my day to day life looks like this falls short many times, yet this image speaks to my heart, because I know THAT is what life is all about. Loving, sharing, giving, and being in holy fellowship with one another and greatest of all Our God. “They broke bread together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all people.” That is what birthdays feel like. Enjoying good meals together praising God for another year of life looking to Him and being grateful. Because where would I be without Him?

Reflecting on another year of my life I know I’m that much closer to seeing the community I crave for, on earth as it is in heaven. It’s in my family, my small yet steadfast church, my friendships, my upcoming marriage. It is in me growing in love and faith and discipleship. Every day I seek to creating this community and everyday I get a little closer. And while we are not there yet, each day we get closer. Each day is a unique to choose Godly community. Getting married to S is part of that. Becoming more disciplined in my prayer and Bible reading life is part of that. Enjoying long rich meals with people I love is part of that. Every day I can submit this precious life he’s given me and use it for his glory and create community, or I can not. I know which one I choose, I hope you’ll choose the same.

One Year after Graduation

So I’ve been reflecting because it’s been a year since I graduated and as it happens precisely a year since I started this young blog and to put it lightly this year has been a year of growth and challenge; I’ve been reflecting much about living a meaningful life, a full life, a God centered life.

This Scripture stood out to me today.

It basically says that we are all a tiny part of this magnificent thing called life and we are not promised a tomorrow. Today is all that we have, we could very much be dead tomorrow. Let God’s will be done.

And it’s true, but I know being a 20 something, that is a hard reality to live. Hard because on any given day do you really think you could die? No? Me either. I live with that arrogance James reprimands, I assume I have another day to try again, to love, to dance, to forgive, to make that phone call, to do that thing I’m scared to do. But in fact this may be my last day, and every day I want that to have mattered.

Which makes me realize more and more it isn’t about what we do.

Huh?

Stick with me, see I realize that each day could be my last, and I want to live with that reality living with the knowledge that this life is not the end all and be all of human existence, that God is doing works within this world that stretch into the world beyond and that is what ultimately matters.

Which means what matters isn’t what I do, but that I am a person who has their life fully reconciled to God, that I give all that I am to Him! And in so doing my love for Him will flow into all I do, which means that I will do things that matter, and think them, and feel them, and breathe them, and live them! You see, if I am truly living a life that is passionately connected to Him everything else will come out of that LOVE.

And I know it’s true. Oh, I make mistakes. I stumble tremendously. I say things I’m grateful that forgiveness covers. But I am journeying and I know that I’m in a better place, a more loving place and seen more of who God is and become more of who God says I am than the senior who graduated last year. And Freshman Juanita, I don’t even know that girl. She, I think, would be really shocked by where life has taken her, where God has called her to every single day, but I think she’d be overwhelmed by His love for her, for His goodness in the world, and the ways He is calling out His people to show great and mighty love in this world. I still am. Some things don’t change.

Glitter always glitter,

Juanita