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.