Unexpected Bonding

July 8, 2016

 

 

Throughout the past year, my roommates and I have frequently used the phrase “unexpected bonding”

to refer to uncomfortable and unwelcome experiences we have faced together that have led to us

becoming closer friends and partners in ministry.  We have also used “unexpected bonding” to refer to

surprising but delightful moments we’ve experienced together.  

 

Since joining Care Fresno two years ago, I have been part of many unexpected bonding moments with

my roommates and others at Care Fresno, experiences that go beyond running an after school program

and occur as a result of living in the neighborhoods where we serve.  Unexpected bonding has taken

place through times of exasperation, frustration, and being stretched beyond my comfort zone.  This

includes last winter’s gas crisis and all the conditions leading to and associated with living in an

apartment in the process of being brought up to code.  Unexpected bonding has occurred through times

of grief, pain, and even anger.  We have grieved death, abuse, and injustice.  We have experienced an

immense range of emotions as kids share their stories with us.  We have dealt with angry family

members and built relationships with families going through tough times.  We have gone to a memorial

service together, grieving the deaths of a girl from our after school program and her mom while walking

other kids through their grief.

 

We have also unexpectedly bonded through times of fun and excitement.  Our apartment has been

available for dance parties, meals, movie viewings, arts and crafts, and conversation.  We have attended

family parties and school events such as a Christmas performance, open house, choir and orchestra

performances, and promotion ceremonies.  We have witnessed kids put their trust in Jesus as they learn

more about the God who loves them and will never leave them.  We have been introduced as a kid’s

sister, aunt, friend, and teacher as kids try to give us a name for the role we play in their lives.  And

these are just examples from my own experiences, as members of each site have their own stories they

could add.

 

Many of the struggles and joys that my roommates and I have experienced take place in similar ways at

Care Fresno sites across Fresno, such that we can come to one another for ideas and support, creating a

community of people who show me how to live daily for the good of our neighborhoods in the midst of

difficult situations.  As a community, like any community, we have our flaws and areas that need

improvement, but through it all, I have seen Jesus reflected in the Care Fresno team.  They exemplify

lives of faith in action and as we go through unexpected bonding moments together, they inspire me to

love deeper and engage intentionally with my neighborhood rather than give up or retreat to the life I

was comfortable with before joining Care Fresno.

 

I wish I could say I am always patient and loving and eager to see God work, but more often than not, I

get frustrated first and yell “unexpected bonding” across my apartment second in an effort to realign my

perspective.  When I choose to experience frustrating or encouraging moments in community with my

roommates and teammates, we acknowledge that living missionally among the urban poor is a strange

and new concept for many of us but we don’t have to do it alone. The Care Fresno team is better

equipped to be present and loving in our neighborhoods when we build deeper relationships with each

others by supporting one another through a range of situations. Perhaps that is a taste of what the

Christian life is supposed to be: strange and unexpected as we go on the mission to which God has called

us while bonding in unexpected ways with others on the same mission.

 

 

 

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