As I was thinking about what to write for this post, my mind went in many different directions. The commonality among all of the thoughts were the people behind them. I have always valued relationships in my life and this year as a Fellow I have met some beautiful people. When someone asks me, “Kelsie, what is your favorite part of the program?” My thoughts go straight to one of the Fellows or one of the teachers or one of the church leaders. Every person I have met has challenged, cared, taught, pushed, listened, inspired, or loved me. I am a lover of words and believe that Jesus does not use them lightly in our lives. The words below have impacted my walk with Jesus and changed the way I love people in my Fellow’s journey.

Bob Goff says, “We do not grow where we are informed. We grow where we are accepted.”

There is always someone telling you what you need to do, or what you need to learn, or what you need to do next. We think that offering people information and knowledge is what is most helpful, but in reality it is more simple than that.  People are more simple than that. People are looking to be accepted and loved. When we can learn how to offer people acceptance over knowledge, we will see that we make loving people too hard. When is the last time you offered someone acceptance over knowledge?

Romans 12 says, “ Love must be sincere...Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

When I read this passage I imagined this is what God had in mind when he thought about putting love into action. Our love is meant to be given to people with the gospel at the heart of it. Throughout the Bible, Jesus is not only telling us but also showing us how to love the people around us. Here he is telling us to love people in need with a heart of hospitality, seeing them as an equal, as someone Jesus died for on the cross. Jesus chose us to love his people without exception while being joyful, patient, and faithful to him. Scripture is a sweet reminder that we are simply called to love each other, always. How beautiful is it that our purpose on Earth is to tell people about the good news and to love them?

Theresa Wilson says, “The most beautiful thing we can offer each other is not our togetherness, but our brokenness.”

When offering people our brokenness we are opening a place for them where it’s ok not to be ok. Our vulnerability allows others to step into the dark parts of their stories and begin to process; so that they may feel freedom in their lives as well. Theresa has taught me that offering people the broken parts of ourselves can lead to healing and freedom. We offer people our togetherness for ourselves, but how beautiful is it when we offer someone our brokenness for the sake of loving them?

Tim Johnson says, “To get to a place of diversity, a lot of people have to give up a lot of things.”

Diversity is something that many people in our world want, so why are there still places where there is no evidence of this. We look around and lie to ourselves saying, “Well there are a few African American students in that graduating class or there is at least one person in my neighborhood that doesn't look like me.” We, me included, need to become a community of doers. In order to achieve diversity in our communities, we have to do something. It is our job as Christians to think about what Jesus intended the world to look like and try our best to see a glimpse of that here on Earth. The kingdom is diverse, so our communities should be too. Tim challenged us to think about what we would give up if this is truly important to us. So if this is important to you I would ask what are you willing to give up to see diversity in our world? And if this is not important to you I would ask you why not?

This blog post may seem like I am challenging you to change the way you look at your world and the way you love people. If you feel like that is what I was trying to do then you are right. If I have learned one take away in this program from each one of these people it is that we are not called to be comfortable. We are called to be uncomfortable for the sake of acceptance, love, diversity, and other people’s brokenness. Jesus uses people to speak truth to you and to love you and to change you. People are God’s most simple yet complex creation and it is our job to love the people around us. I hope you feel loved and more importantly I hope you make others feel loved.

People are important. Speaking truth is important. Loving everyone is important.

To the Fellows:

Anna, you are brave.

Julie, you are joyful.

Bridget, you are passionate.

Fionna, you are loyal.

Noemie, you are humble.

Charlotte, you are kind.

Kirsten, you are compassionate.

Alicia, you are bold.

Daniel, you are selfless.

Peyton, you are loved.

Clay, you are intentional.

Seth, you are worthy.

Theresa, you are inspiring.

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