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.