i like the end of the year for its usefulness in dividing up my erratic and hectic life. to me, it is like having a box full of items i have collected over time, memories i’ve unexpectedly and excitedly gathered. i glean through most of it, picking the times that stuck out most, the times that mattered to me; hard times and simple times. the fond, the friendly, the flustered and frustrating. i evaluate the triumphs, all my endless screw ups that quickly shut any pride up or hilarious self-importance. there is probably an awful lot i missed, lessons i didn’t see, encouragement or problems i didn’t know about.
so, how did it come out, this soon-to-end year of two thousand seven? i’m having trouble deciding what to actually write. it surprises me how much happened this one year.
some great things that happened this year, about which i have mostly already written: i went to new orleans during spring break and learned a lot. my younger brother got married and i gained a sister. i worked in dallas as an intern at a design studio and got to see some of the industry, figuring out what i want, what i don’t want, a little more of what to be looking for. i struggled in school (a shocker, i know), but i passed this semester and have finally gotten to my final class before i graduate. i played in a flag football league and learned i suck at sports pretty badly (but i have heart, ha). uhhh…i am sure more happened, but those are some main ones.
i think i can say that this year can definitely be defined by change.
one of the most important and valuable things i have been a part of happened through the second half of the year. i moved to a neighborhood with a group of friends with the specific purpose of learning how God would work in the context of community, to see what it looks like to begin tearing down barriers i’ve built and known so long about what life should/could look like, to learn how to love in a practical and communal way. this change has allowed me to enjoy fellowship amongst my brothers and sisters in Christ in a different way than i’ve ever gotten to see. i remember how difficult adolescence was because no one my age, including myself, seemed to know what community was or how community could work. then and even in older folks, i see such a self-centered lifestyle and mindset. this creates a large disconnect amongst people which brings about a loneliness that can’t find seem to resolve in such a way of life. i’d grown up reserved and inside my head. i’d grown up solving problems on my own and trying to find a way to live as a Christian on my own, which was an oxymoron.
when i left for college at north texas, i joined a small group. i began finding out that deeper honesty and relationships could be experienced amongst a group. it was a step deeper into fellowship and sincerity i hadn’t expected to see. after so long, i found myself coming out of my introverted shell and realizing what could be had. i was deeply encouraged by it all.
however, there remained that disconnect. we met once a week as a group and during church services, but outside of that we had trouble being involved in one another’s lives. i was entering into a program that began to put another challenge in my way and they were busy, too. we’d talk about plans, goals, ongoings in our weeks, but it always stayed as just basic understandings about what others experienced, and never seemed to go much further. recently, i find that talk and thinking only goes so far. there comes a time where walking and living must begin. doctrine and ideologies get old and worthless when they don’t ever apply.
so after so many years on my own, a chance came up to move into a neighborhood with other Christians. it has been a challenge, it has been a blessing, it has been a joy, it has been frustrating, it has been real. we’ve found that all of us have such different gifts, personalities, roles, purposes, and directions in life. it is truly beautiful.
when we started, we didn’t know how anything was going to work, how relationships would start, how anything should be done. we began meeting weekly, which meant walking across the street or upstairs. we discuss what we’ve seen, we pray, we laugh, we learn from one another, we are encouraged through Scripture. in a short time, we began to meet our neighbors. there have been language barriers, as this is a widely hispanic neighborhood, but a couple people from our group are pretty good speakers. we have gotten to know their kids, mostly. several of them had started going to church with us and are such a blessing to us. i can say that it is nothing we did, but only fruit God provided.
we don’t have answers, we are not perfect by any means. if anything, i find myself humbled day by day at all of the mistakes, all of my shortcomings, all of my selfishness. i’m not special. i’m here because i don’t know what i’m doing. i’m here because i want to learn and grow. and i have, but only because God has been faithful again and again to teach me and lead me.
it has been a long, hard, amazing year. i have learned to step out more, becoming more willing to take risks that are worth stepping out for. i’m still searching, reaching, fighting, learning. i’m doing my best to let go of my control, to be open and willing to go where i am called, to do what i am made to do, and to love my friends, my neighbors, my family, and most importantly the Lord who has made all these things and provided, despite myself. i am thrilled to begin another year. life has been so good and as i move out into the world, i look forward to seeing what happens.