Four Years After

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By Kaitlyn Amos, Fellows Class of 2012

Some Trinity Fellows begin their year with an already substantial idea about who they are and where they are headed. The wild ride of this program simply secures their confidence, broadens their perspective, and launches them into a sector of the culture (and the Kingdom) they will help build. While I admired the beautiful insight some of my peers possessed, I wasn’t one of those Fellows. I walked out of our graduation banquet brimming with ideas coupled with a healthy dose of uncertainty—all under the framework of a grand narrative that (for the first time) actually felt grand enough to hold all my fragments together. I concluded Trinity Fellows with little direction and a lot of conviction to slow down, to prioritize a few Fellows-inspired disciplines, and to pay attention to my own story unfolding within this larger plot.

In May 2012, to the best of my ability, I started to do just that.

I committed to live intentionally with four other Fellows Program graduates. I started a new job, joined a prayer group, and immersed myself in a community of Latino kids who wanted to hang out as much as possible. I tended to that patch of life with all my might, while trying to remain alert to the Lord’s leading. It looked something like: one step forward, two steps, stop; ear to the ground, look around, evaluate my next move. While I haven’t covered a great distance at this pace, I have tried to thoroughly inhabit each space, giving myself back to the people and work given to me.

Surprisingly, this past year my little patchwork trail led to a more paved road. It’s a road down a newer career in healthcare that curiously gathers together so many of the gifts, wounds, and relationships I’ve tended to. (And this road actually has a map!)

Not surprisingly, the vocational framework established during my time as a Fellow provided me with the imagination to recognize this unlikely pavement as my own. Because of Fellows, and the days of rooting in that followed, I was prepared to take on this next venture when it emerged.

A few months ago, I handed over my job of four years to a younger Fellows Program graduate (whom I now consider a close friend). She had recently crossed the finish line of her high-paced year and was ripe for processing the transition. But I found it difficult to answer her questions about my experience adequately. I struggled to distinguish (much less articulate) what specific lessons from the Fellows Program I had carried into the real world.

The more I reflected, the more the patches of life-since-Fellows morphed together—blurring where one section ended and another began. Over the years that followed our program, I had hardly noticed how much our Fellows-taught theology and Fellows-embodied practices had transformed the way I understood the world. And now, looking back, it felt as though it had always been this way. When my childhood friend called to talk about her dad’s diagnosis, I didn’t pull up Bill Wilder’s PowerPoint illustration to explain away her fear. His teaching once interpreted this already-but-not-yet life we inhabit, and now it is the only context within which I can receive her pained words. It is the sole structure that enables me to hold both the suffering and the hope with her, believing that the story won’t end there.

When I choose to sit and read another Narnia book with Juana, I don’t rehearse my training as an Abundant Life Tutor before I open the cover. I do recall the freedom of giving my hours away, witnessing someone thrive in their own story, and mysteriously receiving more than I invested—now it is just what I want to include as essential in my weeks.

When my boss stayed for hours after I left Monroe Hall to edit and perfect a report for the tenth time, I didn’t need a National Fellows Conference to tell me he’s aspiring for excellence because he knows all his work matters to the King and His Kingdom. But at a conference someone did speak about all work being sacred, and now it is the standard by which I will always measure the worth of labor.

When the girls of our 411 Moseley Drive household invite another new peer to our Sunday night celebrations, I don’t quote John Cunningham’s lesson about perichoresis. But I hold onto that word in place of a language I once lacked. Now I can tell you that triune love expands and welcomes because that is who God is and we are becoming like Him, so hospitality is actually very holy work.

When Michael and Dottie Guthrie sat across from me and offered their home and endless support for yet another season of unknowns, I didn’t pull out Dennis Doran’s email about how your host family might one day become like your real family, although I did remember his words. I am able to accept their generosity after years of learning to trust its richness.

If I cry after a poignant conversation with Wade Bradshaw, I am no longer alarmed because I now believe I am only becoming more human.

When I meet with roommates for morning prayer, I’m not trying to check a box. I know I need to be in conversation with the Lord alongside other believers. And now I crave it.

When my small group represents different cultures and demographics, I don’t consciously think of how the Fellows’ Micah 6:8 Retreat might have birthed my desire to worship amidst a diverse body of believers. Now I am continually drawn to sisters and brothers who together portray the mosaic and textured glimpse of Christ’s Kingdom I’ve come to long for.

When I break bread with the Prums or the Stampers or the Coppocks or the Pickells or any of the countless families who graciously and repeatedly welcome me into their homes, I know Christ communes with us in our fellowship. And it is good.

The truths I learned my first year in Charlottesville have become so integrated into my current life, it feels difficult to distinguish what I once did not know. The experiences I had as a Fellow informed so much of the way I live and operate today, it feels difficult to separate how I approached life before.

Despite such coherence, I know that it has not always been this way. The Lord used the Fellows Program to help me initially recognize my belonging in a narrative that, in Wade’s words, “changes everything.”

It’s the narrative of Christ and His coming Kingdom; a story that did not seek to detach from what and whom I grew to love, but a story that instead became solidified by people and practices in the years since our graduation banquet.

The Fellows Program helped me more fully understand the life of Christ and, in doing so, gave me a truer knowing of myself, a bigger dream about where I’m headed, and a better attentiveness to both the loss and the abundance along the way. And Christ’s life is soaked in God’s faithfulness to us, to me. So when the Holy Spirit invites me to be faithful with what is right in front of me—paved road or winding trail—I am freed to do just that.

International interest in Fellows Programs: gathering in Monterrey, Mexico

By Kyle Spencer, Fellows Class of 2017

In a postmodern world that teaches millennials the ideology of individualism, the Fellows Initiative (TFI) was created to help recent college graduates pursue character, excellence, and leadership in every aspect of life, with their faith as the foundation, resulting in the embodiment of Christian virtues. This life system not only engages millennials in the Church, but transforms their theology in the workplace and community, which is why graduates of a Fellows program tend to be drawn to the biblical teaching that our work echoes in eternity. Thus, it is only divine intervention that 25+ Fellows Programs have been created across the United States since 2006, and the reason a TFI “Come and See” conference was held in Monterrey, Mexico.

Through a series of organic conversations, multiple mission agencies such as Mission to the World (MTW), South American Mission, Serge (formerly World Harvest Mission), and folks from the Redeemer City-to-City Church Planting Network (as started by Tim Keller) agreed to meet in Monterrey to better learn how they might globally partner to create Fellows Programs in their local church plants. It is important to note that it is somewhat rare for global mission agencies to fully collaborate due to certain theological and philosophical approaches to reaching the lost. The fact that these many global missions entities were coming together is a testament to TFI’s fruitfulness. There is also a strong desire to engage millennials both in the Church and in the city, and collaborating with TFI serves that common goal. Thus, these partnerships led a local pastor in Monterrey, Mexico, Andres Garza, along with Jud Lamos, a globalization specialist with MTW, to sponsor an event where local church leaders, business leaders, and mission agencies could come and learn about TFI. The goal of this gathering was twofold: to start a relational conversation on engaging millennials through the TFI model, and how the TFI model can be translated across different cultures.

“Rejoicing the City,” the title of this global gathering held in December 2016, was used to target a wide range of audiences: church leaders, business and civic leaders, global mission leaders. The first day was focused on creating a conversation with local church leaders; the second day focused on local business leaders (both Christian and non-Christian), and a third session focused on mission agencies. Although the conversation looked different within each discussion, one main question echoed in all three: How can a Fellows Program bring rejoicing and flourishing to a city? Jeremiah 29:7, the theme of the gathering, calls for Christians to “seek the welfare of the city.” And “when it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices” according to Proverbs 11:10. The concept of a Fellows Program seeks to achieve these things in the context of its city: to form, strengthen, build, and create Creational and gospel-centered beauty in all different industries: arts, business, politics, etc. The result of each discussion led to a resounding praise, with leaders from each group wanting to create a Fellows Program within their city.

Although there are many questions left to address—such as specifics on how a local church in a global city can start a Fellows Program and how the TFI model can be tailored to fit the specific culture of the city—one thing is clear: God’s glorious plan for His church is alive, actively shaping the lives of millennials (and all people!) through the transformative power of the Gospel, seeking to renew all things in His creation. The fruits of the Fellows Initiative are just one small piece of that beautiful picture of God redeeming and restoring all things through Christ.

Snowed In, Fellows Style

Photographs by Brittany Fan

Photographs by Brittany Fan

When I am snowed in, I am in my happy place. Even as a twenty-something, my inner child emerges when a snow day is on the horizon. I love the sledding adventures, mugs of hot cocoa, and fuzzy socks that they entail. As soon as a flurry is forecast, I can be seen with my nose pressed flat against the window, eyes darting about in search of that first snowflake tumbling down from the skies above. I have also been known to rush off to raid the grocery store of the remaining pantry staples right before the storm hits. (The habits of a Carolina girl die hard).

My first Charlottesville snowstorm entailed purposely getting “snowed in” with the Fellows ladies. We went sledding, cooked comfort food, got ahead on some class readings—or at least some of us did!—trudged through 20+ inches of snow, and watched stereotypical “chick-flicks.” It was a sweet time of honoring the sacred rhythms of rest through caring for our minds, bodies, and souls, and enjoying the winter wonderland. We laughed, loved, prayed, and played. We found ourselves captivated by our snowy surroundings, and felt blessed that God was present and providing for our needs.

Though the weekend was filled with memorable moments, the long walk we took around the neighborhood one afternoon was particularly special. We must have been quite a scene ­parading through knee-deep snow in the streets in a single file line. I could see the sun setting slowly through the treetops as we walked the untouched street before us, chattering away about dinner plans, and reminiscing on the snow days of our childhood.

Photographs by Brittany Fan

Photographs by Brittany Fan

One simple comment from our conversation struck me with its profound truth: “Wow, look at that house—how the snow covers the roof like a blanket, how the color of the siding pops against the pure white, how the steady stream of smoke rises from the chimney and fills the air with its scent. Everything is so much more beautiful in the snow, you know?”

We all paused for a moment and gazed at the one-story ranch-style home. Though I had driven down this exact street—and past this exact house, even—countless times in recent months, I hadn’t ever paid attention to it. But this day, I was struck by its beauty.

A house that once looked plain—dull even—suddenly appeared lovely and vibrant, as if the snow highlighted its best features, added a certain sparkle to the landscape, and made the exterior shine as if it was brand new. In the stillness and the quiet of that snow-covered street, a group of girls beheld beauty of the most unexpected kind: the beauty of a normal world made extraordinary.

Photographs by Brittany Fan

Photographs by Brittany Fan

“Though your sins are like scarlet,” the prophet Isaiah wrote, “they shall be as white as snow.” It’s funny how something as ordinary as a house can bring this passage to mind—a passage about the promise of beauty arising from what is ragged, life springing forth from death, renewal changing what once seemed broken.

“Everything is so much more beautiful in the snow, you know?” My friend’s words ring true. The Lord establishes purity and goodness in all who lift up their hands and hearts to Him to receive his freely given grace. We have been covered by His pure love and have been made beautiful in His timing. And just like the snow-dusted house down the street, God is making all of creation new with His divine touch and the radiance of Christ. My hope is to never lose that snow day wonder. 

Photographs by Brittany Fan

Photographs by Brittany Fan


Taylor supplemented her academic life by conducting research on adult ADHD, serving at a local non-profit as a tutor for high-risk teens, and participating in a university-led service trip to an impoverished school in Nicaragua. These experiences strengthened her passion for providing support for youth struggling with mental health and behavioral problems. Her undergraduate studies focused on psychology and social work, and she hopes to attend graduate school to pursue a master’s in counseling psychology. 

Rhythms of Praise

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The Trinity Fellows Program is characterized by rhythm. From our Fellows schedule that repeats week after week, to the various forms of liturgy we engage with daily and weekly at Trinity, I’ve learned many of these rhythms by heart. The rhythm I’ve come to love the most is singing the doxology, a sweet and poignant four-line hymn that the Church has been singing for centuries. (You can listen to my favorite recorded version here). Its lyrics are simple and profound:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him, all creatures here below
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

It's traditionally sung a cappella—no instruments, just voices mingled together in magnificent harmony.

As Fellows, we often sing the doxology in the context of community. On Sunday mornings, we sing it with the rest of the Trinity congregation during church, hundreds of people of all backgrounds and ages and stories fulfilling the call for all God’s “creatures here below” to praise Him. And each Monday night, at the end of the Fellows’ weekly Roundtable dinner—our time of fellowship and processing—we gather in a circle, arms around one another, and sing the doxology in unison. Slowly but surely, the doxology is becoming the soundtrack to my year as a Fellow. Each time I sing that now-familiar first note, my heart feels like it’s at home.

This practice of singing the doxology has begun to shape me. It’s a song that has drawn me into worship and to the truth about who God is. Many times over the past four months, when I’ve felt worn out and at the end of my rope, I’ve sung the doxology over myself, knowing full well the way that these lyrics can nudge me out of despair and into trusting God. One Thursday afternoon, after watching a heart-wrenching film in class about AIDS that left me sobbing, I drove away from class drained and distraught. As I drove down the highway, I made myself breathe out one verse of the doxology at a time, my heart calming with each line. Praise Him, all creatures here below. Praise Him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He’s worthy of praise, I’m reminded—even when the world seems overwhelming.

And some days this year, I’ve simply been exhausted. Some days, the to-do lists feel long, the scheduled activities get stacked, the margin that I long for seems nowhere to be found. When I’ve been weary and worn down, it’s been tempting to fall into bitterness and to complain, despite the fact that each aspect and activity of life as a Fellow is genuinely good. So in the car driving from tutoring to class, or from work to Roundtable, or even during the 30-second walk to my car through the church parking lot, I have sung the doxology, the first line teaching and re-teaching me the rhythm of gratitude. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. There’s so much to thank Him for, even on the hard days.

The doxology has also gently but firmly reminded me that every good and perfect gift comes from God above (James 1:17). In a year that has been abundantly wonderful, it has been tempting to merely enjoy the good parts of the Fellows program without turning in adoration and thanksgiving to God. The doxology has taught me the rhythm of looking out and then looking up, helping me to see the blessings that have flowed to me, and then turning my heart upward in light of them to God.

After a particularly sweet December night spent drinking hot chocolate by the fire with my beloved Fellow friends, I walked out to my car, and, awestruck by the starlit sky, instinctively began singing the doxology out loud. A few others heard me and joined in, our simple harmony echoing down the driveway. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. In that moment, the doxology’s lyrics reminded me that the gifts of community and natural beauty flow from the God who is somehow even more wonderful than those gifts. As Fr. Richard Rohr says, "Whatever good, true, or beautiful things we can say about humanity or creation we can say of God exponentially. God is the beauty of creation and humanity multiplied to the infinite power." His bright glory and goodness is reflected in the parts of this year I’ve treasured most.

Looking ahead to the remaining five months of the Trinity Fellows Program, I know that every Sunday morning, every Monday evening, and plenty of moments in between, I will be singing the doxology. The coming days and weeks will bring with them a multitude of challenges and joys, gifts and pain, but I hope that the doxology’s rhythm of praise and gratitude will define my Fellows year and the years to come.


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Nikki has a background in marketing and communications and is interested in the convergence of faith, media, and culture. She has held marketing internships at various local and international organizations, including a magazine publishing company in Charlottesville. Nikki also worked as a member of the team that helped with the recent launch of The Arbor, a Charlottesville based nonprofit organization that seeks the flourishing of survivors of human trafficking. During college, she was involved in leadership in Chi Alpha at UVA, and worked as a youth counselor at Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp in California. She is considering a career in communications.

The Body of Christ: Communion and Community

The Trinity Fellows Program, in my experience, has been painful.

It has been many other things—exciting and beautiful and strange—but for me, it has been undeniably painful. I think this is because much of the discussion we’ve had this year has opened old wounds, many of which I wasn’t even aware existed. I have a deep and abiding desire to be special. I know, the word makes me cringe—and I am embarrassed to call it my own. This hunger to be special is, at heart, self-absorption. Over the years, it has become subtle and sometimes sinister, and has at times been mistaken for kindness and caring. I’ve come to believe that self-absorption is at its core self-deification. The desire to be special is really the desire to be admired—which is, when you unravel it enough, the desire to be worshipped. And this tendency toward self-absorption had left me with countless hours of introspection, nursed injuries, incipient hopes, and a smattering of emotion. All I had was a constructed self, a “beautiful” image I could call my own—one that was the work of my own hands.

In the past, when people spoke of the Church as the Body of Christ, in which each member was as necessary to the others as hands are to the feet, I shrugged it off as a shallow platitude. It wasn’t sufficient—it couldn’t satisfy my desire to be special, to be unique, to be the recipient of people’s genuine admiration.

The most difficult realization I’ve had within the Fellows program has been that I am, indeed, not special. I am not irreplaceable—or even ultimately necessary. This small body of believers does not need me in order to survive. More than that, it does not even need me in order to flourish. Their worship was never mine. And while they are warm, appreciative, and loving, their ultimate admiration is for another. And because of His love, His body broken for them, they worship Him.

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves that “God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that he may love and perfect them.” God’s indomitable love is a relentless and quiet pursuit that both shatters our schemes for autonomy and answers our cries of desperation. It does not pour itself out or break itself open for me because I am special. I am special because this love has been poured out for me. Christ’s love—a love that is radical, intimate and fierce—is the only force I’ve ever felt that can unwrap the self-absorption that is coiled around my heart. It is a love that claims my mind, my spirit and my body. This love boldly claims that I do not belong to myself. I belong to Him whose love is the foundation, the present sustenance and the future hope of my very existence. And it is a love that I have only comprehended by being a member of a community that has fallen in love with the person of Jesus Christ. In this Fellows community, my brothers and sisters are not set on developing their own images but on worshiping and emulating Jesus.

This year, I have come to see that declarations about the Body of Christ are not empty promises, but statements of belonging. “I belong to Christ as surely as his pierced feet and hands belonged to him.” The emphasis must not be placed on our necessity to Him or to one another. And our place within the Body is not secured by the insufficiency of the skills we bring to the table. On the contrary, it is because our belonging is superfluous grace that God’s love can be seen.

This group of Fellows surely does not need me. But I do belong with them. As with so many insights from Christ’s parables and examples, these facts are counterintuitive. The answer to my desire to be special need not be a suppression of my individuality, nor an endorsement of my ravenous craving to be worshiped, but rather an affirmation of what my deepest, often unsaid hope is: to belong, and in that belonging be united in incredible intimacy with the body of Christ, broken and poured out for me. This mystical union, where oneness can be found in perfect harmony with—even because of—a kaleidoscopic diversity, I have found only amongst my brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.

 


While at LSU, Micah was in leadership with Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), leading small discussion groups, acting as an RUF spokesperson, and coordinating volunteer service opportunities, including trips to orphanages and children’s homes in Louisiana, Mississippi, Mexico, and China. This instilled in him a desire to serve and educate children in need. He has traveled in the UK, western and central Europe, and Asia. His written work as a contributing author has been published online and in print. He hopes one day to meld his interests in writing, public speaking, counseling, and education into a cohesive vocation.

Longing for the New City

Photo by Ben Constable

Photo by Ben Constable

I’m a lone wolf.

For those of you who know me well, you may be surprised by this statement. It’s pretty obvious that I’m an extreme extrovert who constantly surrounds himself with others. However, since the program began in September, I have come to see within myself some “lone wolf” tendencies—seeing someone who walks to his own beat, doesn’t always go with the flow, and is prone to wanderlust. To be honest, I think that all of us have “lone wolf” tendencies. I’ve seen that in times of stress and of being stretched, we all can have the tendency to withdraw, become bitter about our circumstances, and attempt to ‘right the ship’ with our own compass.

This restlessness and discontentment that sends us wandering is grounded in a deeper longing for a home, a haven, a place of rest, I believe—a place where we experience true belonging and peace. In Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, this ‘home’ that we desire is further described as “the place of light, the place of truth, the place of love…beyond earning, deserving, and rewarding. It is the place of surrender and complete trust” (13).          

However, Nouwen immediately throws a caveat into his definition: “It is the place where I will receive all I desire, all that I ever hoped for, all that I will ever need, but it is also the place where I have to let go of all I most want to hold on to.” BOOM.

We can’t find this rest unless we can peel our fingers, one-by-one, off of all of the things that we have here on Earth that bring us comfort, hope, and temporary rest. And that is downright impossible on your own and apart from God, let me tell you. But God knows us intimately—He knows what we need. He knows who we really are. He sees the intimate depths of our souls. He wants to help us destroy idols, these things that we cling to that are not Him, in our lives. And this letting go of things that do not satisfy is a painful and extensive project.

However, rather than getting numb and calloused, I see our group of Fellows thriving and turning from our idols effectively here in Charlottesville, where encouragement, support systems, and space to rest exist and provide the opportunity to self-examine and honestly evaluate without dropping into despair. And when we have the freedom and space to do the dirty work in offering our hearts up for refinement to the One who can make them brand new, the riches promised to us in Christ will reign supreme over the empty offerings of the idols that vie for our attention!

To engage in this battle, we must not come in defeated, but rather, dependent—dependent on a merciful and beautiful and gracious God who wants us and our hearts. We must be reliant on the atoning sacrifice of a Savior who didn’t back down when temptations and idols were cast his direction. We long for a home where we can find full victory over the things of this world that want to smother humanity in seduction and empty promises. In John 14, Jesus tells us,

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you for myself, there where I am you may be also. (John 14:2-3).

What a promise! We will have a home, a perfect, restored, enduring home with our maker that was prepared for us and is intended to display and embody ultimate and lasting rest and victory! We will live in the New City, perfectly redeemed and re-created for all eternity. It is my prayer for myself and for all of us that we will hear this promise from the Lord, and have it resonate loudly in our lives this coming year—and for our whole lifetimes! When we do, I think our response will be a lot like the Psalmist, when he says in the fourth psalm,

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:7-8).

Joy and peace and rest and abundance and safety lie in the House of the Lord. These are good gifts that the Lord loves to give and lavish upon us. Here’s to a year where we meditate on His promises, rest in His rock solid truths, and hope in the safety and security supplied to us by the Alpha and the Omega!


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While in college, Ben primarily spent his time investing in InterVarsity, serving as a liaison between students and  employers at the College of William & Mary Career Center, and spearheading the College’s ESL teaching connection with the youth of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. During his time in Sarajevo, Ben and his team hosted an English-language immersion day camp

for children ages 3–15, in which they promoted themes of reconciliation and non-violent communication. Ben spent two summers serving as a counselor at Summer’s Best Two Weeks sports camp, where he had the opportunity to teach, facilitate, coach, encourage, and empower young children, and lead overnight outdoors trips. Ben hopes to put his analytical, social, and leadership abilities to use in a research or non-profit setting, and to continue to work extensively with youth. 



Gathered Around the Table

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. – Matthew 5:6

There is something holy about gathering around a table with the ones you love. It is there—around the table—that we look each other full in the face, accepting all of the mess that life with others may bring, bearing together the weight of the day. It is there that we share meals, nourishing our bodies with the carefully crafted food created and served in love. The table is a place for stories told, encouragement given, thanks expressed. And it is at the table where we cease our toil, cast off concerns, abandon false facades, and step into our truest selves. We simply come as we are to be filled. The table is a sacred space, indeed.

Testimony Retreat, September 2015. 

Testimony Retreat, September 2015. 

Bonding through breaking bread together is my favorite component of the Fellows program, specifically during a weekly time called “Roundtable.” It is a couple of hours at the start of the week during which we cook, dine, worship, and pray together as a community of brothers and sisters. It is a place to reconnect after a Monday in the marketplace, to find a sliver of rest in the busyness of our schedules, and to recount all the many ways God has shown up in our lives recently. We demonstrate hospitality, grace, and a whole lot of love to one another, leaving us with both full bellies and full hearts by the end of the night.

It is around the table that I am most clearly reminded of why I moved to Charlottesville in the first place—to dwell with God in the context of community. It might be the meal itself that leads us to sit and dine together, but what causes us to return excitedly each week is the doling out of grace when it is needed, the displays of kindness, the meaningful conversations, and the shared desire to enter into each other’s mess and choose to love each other in spite of it. I believe a connection exists between the physical and the spiritual; something as seemingly mundane as slurping soup around the dining room table unites us as a family under one good, good Father—a Father who gently beckons us to draw near with absolutely nothing to offer but our own messed-up selves. And so we are moved to present the same gift to our worn-out and broken-down peers by creating a safe space to simply “be,” safe from the striving and insecurity so frequently elicited by the world. We give grace freely. We embrace and break bread and remember why we do so—because we have first received a grace from the Lord that compels us. 

This is the Gospel: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That we are so loved that the Son of Man was pleased to lay down His life so that we might have it abundantly, eternally. A passage in Matthew 11 recounts the compassionate call of Jesus: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Like little children who depend on their parents for every need, those who pursue Jesus approach the throne with confidence not in their own strength, but based on the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. After all, nothing can separate us from His love; He has made a way for us to approach the table of God, to share in His sufferings and simply come to find the deep soul rest for which we long.

This thought is what comes to mind when I consider the not-so-obvious purpose behind our weekly Fellows meal. I believe we can emulate Christ by receiving each other with open arms and a warm plate of cheesy casserole. I view this act of sitting alongside our fellow Fellows as a reflection of the freely given acceptance and love that covers a multitude of sins. By fixing our eyes on the example set by Jesus, someone who allows us—even commands us—to humbly stand before the communion table and remember His body sacrificed and blood shed, we are asked to extend the same grace to our neighbor. We too can invite those who labor and are heavy laden to come and find rest in the peaceful yoke of Christ that we have the ability to embody. To do as Jesus does—to fill the spent and broken with reassurance and fullness—is a beautiful blessing that we have the privilege of bestowing upon others. When a ritual as everyday as gathering together around the table takes place in the name of God, it will be filled with the surpassing peace, presence, and fellowship of Christ—the things for which we truly hunger. 


Taylor supplemented her academic life by conducting research on adult ADHD, serving at a local non-profit as a tutor for high-risk teens, and participating in a university-led service trip to an impoverished school in Nicaragua. These experiences strengthened her passion for providing support for youth struggling with mental health and behavioral problems. Her undergraduate studies focused on psychology and social work, and she hopes to attend graduate school to pursue a master’s in counseling psychology. 

An Incomplete Question

Three Ridges Hike, near Charlottesville, VA. Photo by Brittany Fan. 

Three Ridges Hike, near Charlottesville, VA. Photo by Brittany Fan. 

“What do you want to do with your life?”

Every person around the age of twenty has heard this question (or at least a variation of this question) too many times to count. And hearing this question has always bothered me. I have never known how to answer it, but now, thanks to the Fellows Program, I know exactly what I want to do with my life!

…False.

I still have no clue what I will be doing with my life—or even what I will be doing the year after my Fellows year—but that’s okay. In my relatively short Fellows experience thus far, I have figured out the reason why I can’t adequately answer this question that has haunted me and every other millennial alike.

While it may be true that I am prone to indecision when facing a plethora of choices, that’s not the reason the question is so hard to answer. It is also true that after analyzing the many options at hand, I often don’t find one I deem satisfactory, but that’s not it either. 

The real reason that “What do you want to do with your life” has seemed like such an impossible question to answer is because it is an incomplete question. Although asking a young adult, “What do you want to do with your life?” sounds fairly benign, it is actually reinforcing a cancerous, individualistic mindset that makes career and calling all about the self. The question should not begin and end with “you.”

Through the many personality tests, classes, and conversations with friends and family I’ve had this year, I’ve come to believe that the full question one should ask goes something like this: “What do you want to do—with the gifts, talents, and abilities God has given you—that will benefit others?” This three-part question still involves choice, but more importantly, it acknowledges that each person has unique gifts, talents, and abilities given to them by God. We are not meant to waste these life tools. Instead, we are to use them for the betterment of others, not just ourselves. 1 Peter 4:10 summarizes this perfectly: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.”

My time in the Fellows Program has helped me realize that what I do on earth matters. What I do can help others flourish. What I do can be Kingdom-building. And the best part is, each and every person’s vocation can, should, and will look different from others’ according to the gifts, passions, and personalities God has uniquely given them.

I am not naïve enough to think that just by reframing this question, I will be able to calculate the right answer as if it were a math equation. Now, more than ever, I might be fairly confused about how to approach the future. But in the midst of the swirling tornado of thoughts, ideas, worries, and insecurities inside my head, there is God–crafting a plan for my life that only His perfect timing will unveil.

These past two months have not unlocked all of life’s mysteries, and neither will the next seven, but my time as a Trinity Fellow has given me a framework to approach God’s call on my life with confidence. I know that He created and gifted me uniquely, and that He wants to bring about His kingdom here on earth. My fulfillment in life won’t come from crafting an individualistic, inwardly focused plan. My fulfillment will instead come from knowing I am stewarding the gifts God has given me. My life is not all about me, and I shouldn’t treat my vocational calling like it is either.


Matthew spent his childhood years in Colombia, South America, and Puerto Rico. At Houghton he was a member of the varsity basketball and soccer teams. His marketing internship at Houghton saw him writing articles for published magazines and increasing the college’s social media presence. Matthew studied abroad in Tanzania and lived with both urban and rural Tanzanian families. He mentored kids at sports and wilderness camps for three years and was an assistant basketball coach at his high school alma mater.