EXACTLY ONE YEAR ago from today, I was lying on a creaky bed wondering what I had gotten myself into, moving into a house with 9 strangers in a brand new city and committing to a yearlong internship… I stood at the threshold of an exciting adventure, and the overwhelming sense of calm I felt assured me that I was stepping into something good.
“Good” seems overly simplistic, yet it was the word I used most frequently when describing my year with Sojourners and Cycle 30. Jam sessions on the balcony. Girl talk on the roof. Wednesday night Zumba. First-date drama. Morning runs in the neighborhood. Late-night donut runs with the flourish gang. Parties and worship nights on weekends. Sherlock. Harry Potter. Free-flowing conversations (and body movements) around the kitchen table – actually, anywhere in the kitchen… my favorite memories were formed in the kitchen. Indeed, part of the goodness of the past year was the spontaneous fun that happened, whether explosively or gradually.
But there were also really sobering times both for our community and for myself. Loss of loved ones to sickness and accidents. Tension with parents and siblings over diverging values and worldviews. Disappointments and regrets from impulsive decisions and unresolved conflicts. Clashing theologies and applications of faith. Growing cynicism of systems and deepening doubt of long-held doctrines.
The most challenging thing for me was the spiritual oppression I (didn’t know I) faced. Having emerged from a summer of wilderness, I entered the year with Sojourners in a spiritually vulnerable state. Without the sort of accountability to which I was accustomed at Wheaton and at home, I leaned heavily towards open-mindedness and tolerance of diverse views. Considering multiple perspectives is always positive, but I approached any new idea like a smoothie, slurping everything up that was palatable without taking time to consider the taste. Absorbing information without filters left me more disoriented than I ever imagined.
I am thankful for the opportunity to see God through different lenses and to emphasize different parts of God’s character. I am thankful for the freedom from White conservative evangelicalism to which I had clung. I am thankful for the chance to worship with people who differed from me in socioeconomic background, cultural upbringing, ethnic identification, and sexual orientation.
At the same time, my relationship with Jesus has become fragile. I crave discipline and solitude. I am itching to participate in ministry. I seek to be rooted in conviction.
Presently, I feel like I am back at the beginning of my year with Cycle 30, minus the wonder & anticipation. Right now, I am weary. I am learning to walk on my own two feet. Sojourners truly is my family – a place where I feel at home, where I am loved as myself, where I delight in the company of my colleagues even if I have some frustrations with the organization. But no matter how much I enjoy spending time with my family, I am not meant to stay forever. As much as I want to be babied for another year, I hug Sojourners goodbye and carry the lessons & memories and the laughs & hiccups it shared with me. Putting one foot in front of the other, I move forward towards another milestone, whatever it may be.