Community has always been hard for me; living in fear of conflict and confrontation, I routinely choose myself over others because it seems easier. In these first two months of Salt Lake Fellows, I have already been forced out of my comfort zone, living in community and therefore accountability. Sin cannot be hidden when you’re never alone.
I brought my dog out to Utah, a semi-unconventional request for a Fellow which caused a lot of anxiety. I knew I was asking a big favor from our directors and it was a long conversation that did not come to completion until just a week or so before I drove out from North Carolina. In light of that, I didn’t want to bother them with any more conflicts, even though I had a big one. My best friend was getting married in October and I had been asked to be a bridesmaid. Although I was unsure of our detailed Fellows schedule I assured my friend I would be there. However, I wasn’t being honest to my friend or my Fellows directors. I have a very unrealistic “everything will work out/be alright” mentality mostly because I am afraid of the idea that it won’t. Fast forward to our orientation retreat where the schedule for the entire year was given out. I immediately turned to the second weekend of October, anxious to see what I would be missing in Utah for the wedding back home. I read “Adventure Retreat”, and immediately knew it was something far more extravagant than our weekly “Adventure Excursion”. Once I was informed that this weekend would entail a trip to Moab for Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, my heart dropped. Big decisions kick my anxiety into overdrive. I would have to have a hard conversation and I had to decide with who it was going to be.
Naturally, I sat on the decision for another month, or if I am being honest, avoided calling my best friend to tell her I would not be flying home for the wedding. As an Enneagram number four I tend to dramatize situations, not intentionally but it always happens and I was definitely dragging this out more than I ever should have. I was living in a constant state of anxiety in September, mulling over the confrontation I needed to have with my friend, but not wanting to do so and my fellow Fellows started to catch on. After talking with Rachel and Ben, who are amazing listeners and advice-givers, I bit the bullet and conducted the phone call that had to happen and it was REALLY hard.
ALL this to emphasize how much this program and this community has continually challenged me since the moment I arrived in Salt Lake City, forcing me to be honest and be open and unable to hide my shortcomings. Choosing to join the Fellows in Moab for a 3 day/3 night desert adventure was immediately so clearly necessary for me and I felt secure in my decision to stay in Utah for that time. That weekend marked our group’s two month anniversary which was really sweet because it provided us with three glorious days of much-needed rest from the monotony of the day to day, to just enjoy each other and enjoy creation. Hiking, hanging out and experiencing a new climate and landscape that, I believe, was the first for most of us, was beautiful. And the ability to experience this together was transforming relationally. I was able to have so many edifying conversations and learned in a deeper way, how getting to know others is a never-ending journey and that there will always be depth to uncover and explore together.
SLF Class of 18-19