Reflections on the Year

“Satisfaction comes only when I spend intentional time with God. It comes when that original longing for God—a desire that’s been mutated into a thousand splintering directions—gets redirected back to him.”

One of the hardest and most beautiful lessons this program has taught me is how easily I turn to other things, people, and desires to fill my heart and how quickly I lose sight of my Savior. One of the most stretching parts of this program is learning how to balance: balance work, classes, relationships, and most importantly time alone with Jesus. Through the busyness, I have consistently learned how incapable I am of doing this program on my own without feeling completely depleted. You may be thinking, “Why would I want to do a program that leaves me feeling exhausted and struggling with these tensions?” Well, I can confidently say that during the past nine months, I have experienced and been reminded of the truth that God’s presence is the only place we experience fullness of joy. Furthermore, as I become more aware of my failings, I have experienced grace and the Lord’s love for me in a deeper, richer way.

Through our seminary classes, speakers, and trips, I have been challenged to contemplate what it means to serve God on this earth through my passions and understand more clearly how we are created to live here on earth. I have been stretched to really explore these truths and how they relate to my life as a Child of God as well as who I am individually. I am so thankful for the ways I have been challenged and inspired to dream big, think deeper, and wrestle with ideas I may not have been exposed to outside of this program.

Probably the most unique part of this program is that while you are learning more about your brokenness and flawed heart, there are people walking beside you, encouraging, challenging, and consistently loving you. From our mentor relationships, small group leaders, and host families, there are countless people who truly care about your heart and desire to walk through this transitional period of your life with you. There is also something unbelievable about having thirteen friends who are experiencing this program with you, rejoicing, struggling, and growing together. These fellows have shown me more about God’s love, the way I function and process the world, and how to live in a community than I ever expected coming into this program. The support, deep love, and inspiration I have experienced through this program has been truly amazing and life changing.

Ashley Parsley--University of Virginia 2012