“There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.” ~ Bonhoeffer

As I reflect on exactly where I was this time last year, it amazes me. Finishing projects, taking tests, rehearsing for graduation, asking what is next, working two jobs, trying to focus, and figuring out what is next. Now, I am living in Nashville, TN, interning within my field, volunteering at a local church, plugged into a great community, reading and discussing tough questions, pressing into what’s next, and praying for direction yet again. After talking with some wise people I realize that coming to crossroad moments in life never ends; there is one after another, yet hopefully I will approach each with better understanding, wiser discernment, an attention to prayer, and stronger faith. Despite not yet seeing what God has in store next, I know without a doubt it will be good because He has been faithful and is unchanging; therefore, He will continue to be faithful till the end – praise the Lord!

In my reflection time, I’ve noticed how much of an impact this year has made on me as a person in regards to faith, community, and self-awareness. These three aspects are of major importance, and I hope to press into each more in the coming years since there is so much more to be learned in these areas.

First, I recognize that spending time alone daily with Jesus is of the utmost significance. Truly, to order my day correctly and begin on the right foot, I must prioritize His presence and communing with Him through reading His Word. In addition I have been impressed to pray more intently and then rest in listening for His still, small voice in my heart. Some days I do this better than others, but I know it is vital to my all-around health and well-being and to those I come into contact with. Being in The Fellows Program this year has prompted me to read more and discuss theological, controversial, and thought-provoking things, which have enhanced my understanding of the Bible, God, and the world. For that, I am thankful!

Second, the power of community is huge, yet today when individualism prevails, it is ten times more difficult to gather together and be fully present. Daily, we interact with numerous circles of people, and we are the only ones that can reach each circle we are a part of. Between families, friends, co-workers, church leaders, youth kids, the guy at the grocery store, the gym, or people at the park, we have countless opportunities to engage with others. However, it is important to engage well by being intentional, which is very hard when our lives are bombarded with busy, busy, hurry, hurry. Something I have learned to press into this year is vulnerability and being openly honest with those close to me. Still, I am not the best at this since it is difficult for me to accept criticism if there is any and would rather engage others by asking questions instead of answering them myself. But when I take time to explain myself, I feel more free and understood. Lastly, encouraging and building others up is another thing I am working on; by slowing down and taking the time to notice another, offer a compliment, or just simply smile, someone’s day could be made brighter.

And third, self-awareness and self-reflection are essential. Before this year, I thought I knew myself pretty well; however, after taking more assessments, discussing the results, and asking questions, I have a deeper knowledge of not only myself, but others as well. We get a myriad of insights from teachers who lead our classes, speakers from events, and pastors at our churches. Each class time I acquire new perceptions to think through and from it comes growth. It is imperative that those we let speak into our lives are communicating truth, which is why we must weigh everything against the Bible’s standard. Overall, what I have heard and been able to discuss is valid and has helped me to be more conscious of my thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and insecurities.

When I first arrived here back in August, I kept hearing this song by Tauren Wells (which I’m sure many of you know if you ever listen to the Christian radio station☺) and since then, it has become my ‘theme song’ if you will:

I'm fully known and loved by You

You won't let go no matter what I do

And it's not one or the other

It's hard truth and ridiculous grace

To be known fully known and loved by You

Wow, that was a lot of reflective rambling! Thanks for reading, and I hope some of this resonated with your spirit to encourage you on your journey. Life is an exciting adventure filled with all sorts of joys and sorrows, but most importantly, a faithful hope that never ends!