I could write a blog post about everything that I have learned over these past ten months as a fellow, but in all honesty that would take too long and I don’t really want to do that. I could also write a thank you to all of the Fellows and any one else who has impacted me over these past ten months, but I don’t want to do that either.
What I am going to say though is that it was worth it. All the struggle, anxiety and loneliness that I encountered this year. All of the belly laughs, movie nights, and shared meals. It was all worth it. Every high, and every low. Even those moments where I was forced to sit patiently in the grey of the unknown for what seemed like years. It was worth it.
The struggle was extremely real this year, but I am glad I got to struggle with these ten people by my side. I am glad that I got to struggle in a place that has completely captured my heart. It made everything easier. It was worth the pain and heartbreak. Those dark and stormy days that seemed to never end, it made it worth it knowing that there was always a shining face of a Fellow close by. Someone that I could talk to about my storm cloud. Knowing that there was someone out there that would accept me in all of my mess. It was worth it.
Knowing that every Friday night, there was something going on. Whether is was attempting to build a fort, eating tacos for the hundredth time or just watching a movie. It was worth it. Experiencing more charcuterie boards then I ever have in my entire life, it was worth it. Being forced to be social with required activities on the weekends, even when my introvertedness was trying to win. It was worth it.
Those days where so many things seemed uncertain. If I was walking towards the right career path. If I was making the right decision applying to graduate school. The unknown of if the next step I was trying to take was the right one in so many different situations. Being completely uncomfortable not knowing or having control over the future. It was worth it.
I’m at a loss for words. I have written and rewritten this blog post so many times. Trying to find the right way to describe what my experience as a Fellow has been. Every time, I have simply come back to: it was worth it. And it truly was. Being apart of the Salt Lake Fellows, well, it was worth it.
Over the past 10 months since moving to Salt Lake City, I’ve put countless miles on my car and my hiking boots. I’ve been welcomed into an Island-of-Misfit-Toys church that feels like family. I’ve fallen in love with the city hugged by the Wasatch Range with all of its beautiful contradictions -- urban against untouched wilderness, both zealous and anti-religious, home to folks who have never left Salt Lake County alongside refugees from every corner of the globe -- a place where I feel the most at home I’ve ever felt yet wrestle with the challenges of being a spiritual minority.
I’ve also applied to law school. Six of them, to be exact. I didn’t have a perfect LSAT score and, really, I’m thankful, because feeling unexcited by certain “yes’s” and not disappointed by being waitlisted at others helped me realize where I wanted to be from the beginning, regardless of if my feelings were reciprocated yet. So a couple of months ago, I withdrew all of my applications besides the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where I have been waitlisted.
I thought about writing this once I had some answers. Maybe I will have gotten them by the time you read this. Then I realized how greatly that would suck the truthiness and the rawness and the beauty out of what it is that I’m (clearly still) learning.
I can’t tell you that there weren’t any tears or anxiety about placing my eggs in a single law school basket. But what I can tell you is the peace I have felt since has changed my life, regardless of if I am admitted to the U this fall, or if God allows me to attend law school at all. Following heaps of prayer and reflection, I felt more led to continue to grow roots in this place that has watered me, than I did to enroll somewhere else simply to abide by my self-imposed law school timeline.
Here’s the punchline: True freedom comes when confidence is placed entirely in the person of Christ rather than self. When I am not confident in God’s authoritative, all-knowing, perfectly loving character to continue writing my story, that is when I feel enslaved to my own pen -- to anxiety about whether or not I’m pursuing the correct passion, to the opinions of others who might see my decision to withdraw from viable choices as crazy, to my own merits to get me what I believe I “deserve.”
I’m learning that confidence equates to rest, insecurity equates to striving. When I follow God - like really, authentically give Him my whole life - I am free to be joyful in the waiting, knowing that things are out of my hands, that He has been faithful in guiding me before and will continue to be.
However, one scary revelation in the midst of this is realizing there may be times when I am worshiping God’s answers to my decision-making questions more than enjoying Him for who He is. I see this as a common struggle. Are we so worried about our next “goal” that seeking God and inviting Him into our everything is no longer the ultimate goal? Lord Jesus, would we be so in love with you that we want you more than we want security.
It was snowing in Zion when we were backpacking last weekend. I had envisioned our 30-mile trek to be sunny and to be dry and warm sleeping in a tent. No such luck. Amidst moments of shivering frustration, I realized what a unique gift the snow and rain ended up being - it cooled us off as we hiked, gave the terrain an eerie beauty and kept large crowds away from the Park, making it feel like we had it all to ourselves.
Unexpected changes in plans and factors that at first seem disastrous are almost always blessings in disguise and take us on sanctifying adventures that, if easy, would make pretty boring stories.
There’s a lot that’s unclear as I’m finishing up my year as a Salt Lake Fellow. The story has been anything but boring. But what is clear is that Salt Lake is home to me. What is clear is that rejection can and will lead to beautiful redirection. What is clear is that I have a strengthened, closer relationship to my Creator, with increased trust and joy in Him and a settled confidence even in snow or rain.
Salt Lake Fellows Collaborative