A few weeks ago, my son and I spent the majority of our Saturday watching 6th grade basketball games. I was proud of him for sitting through 3 out of 4 quarters and then was startled and pleased to watch him play with the gentlemen sitting in front of us or the woman beside us. We were seated right in the middle of our St. Regis fans and I was so touched by how gracious everyone was to my squirmy toddler. But then on the drive home, it struck me... we were part of a community. A real brick-and-mortar, bone-and-blood community of people. And I don't think this is a feeling many of us experience any more.
We seek out community in online spaces like groups of Facebook, feeds on Twitter, and through other platforms like Instagram and SnapChat that make us feel like we're really there seeing (while also making us feel terrible because we're missing it). Although social media has its time and place, it cannot replace the deeply rooted need we have has humans to seek and create community. We were not designed to function alone; God created us to be communal and understood that about us intrinsically when Jesus was sent to institute a new church, focused on love rather than laws.
Amidst a time of crisis in our universal Church, I can see no better remedy than to seek out and develop deeper, more rooted communities within our home churches. This is not a time to pull further away from the Church (despite disillusion with the clergy and other leadership); it is time for the lay people to reinvest in their communities. Our parish priests will come and go but we are our parish, not the just man saying Mass on Sundays.
I won't claim to have all the answers because truthfully, I'm not the best at making friends quickly (but really, are any of us?) I can tell you this though... in every situation you feel awkward, uncomfortable, or left out, odds are there is another woman feeling just like you or worse. Bearing that in mind, I want to encourage you today to be bold in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, and intentionally seek out those who, just like you, are starving for holy friendships, iron that sharpens iron, that will feed will help you feel connected and loved, all while returning to the Father. Don't fall for the tricks of the Evil One, taunting you with your own insecurities and flaws. Boldly, bravely, walk up to the woman also sitting on the edge and hold your hand out to her, just like Jesus did for His beloved friend, Peter time and time again.
You got this, sister. God did not intend for us to go through life alone. We've been blessed with a community of believers because God knows so well through the experiences of Jesus, that humanity needs one another's support and love to make this difficult life that much better.
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I won't even deny it, I'm a bit of a birthday diva. I love celebrating another year around the sun and using it as a post to write a self-indulgent blog post that brags about myself and my accomplishments in the last 26 years of my life. But I particularly want to celebrate this year because I have been thrown some curve balls in the last few years (pregnancy, quitting law school, going back to school) just to name a few.
Recently, my classmates from the law school were celebrating a huge achievement; their passing of the bar exam. I was so excited to see the posts roll in on Facebook celebrating such an important milestone. The bar is hard; they had every reason to rejoice in their hard work and accomplishments. But I was also filled with an overwhelming satisfaction knowing that I did not have to take the exam. As happy as I was for old friends, I was equally pleased for myself because I had also found an occupation that was fulfilling. Even a month in, I can say with confidence that I love teaching in a way I never loved my law internships or classes.
How did I know that everything was going to work out this way? I didn't.
But if I have accomplished anything in the last year or two, it has been learning how to take my fears and anxieties about life and turn them over to God. Simple practices like mindful breathing and minimalist actions and living have helped me maintain a calmer, more purposeful state of being. I'm more aware of when anxiety, frustration, or fear are starting to rise and can attend to whatever is causing it and simultaneously turn it over to God.
As a daughter of the King, I have become more confident and assured in my identity and purpose that was created for me. There is frequent temptation to root myself in worldly things, such as my occupation or passions. However, as I've grown in my faith and vocation, have come to realize how peaceful it is to just be in God's presence and love.
Which makes this post much less self-indulgent. My victory, my success, it is all because of God. I'm so grateful for this season of life I've entered; calm, purposeful, and loving. And it is all thanks to our loving God.