Alright, alright. I will be the first to admit that I am not very good at this whole "updating my blog" thing. But do not dismay! It is high time I started developing my writing and imagination skills again...plus it has been a long time since I truly felt like myself and I think this will help me return to the me that I am. In light of this, my New Year's resolution is to add at least two new entries a month. That is do-able, right? Although it is a rare occurrence for me to claim a New Year's resolution (and even rarer occurrence for me to stick to it), do not fear! I have various plans of attack for keeping such a resolution. I won't go into details, but one such plan is to reuse material I write as a Fellow. So in the interest of recycling, here is the most recent Fellows update email (it was my turn) to send to family and friends of the program. You may have already received it in your email inbox, but nevertheless, here you go!
Dear Friend of Fellows,
As we begin our second semester as Capital Fellows it seems like an insurmountable task to sum up all that December and these first few weeks of January have entailed! Since you last heard from us we have finished one semester and begun another…with so much in between! It was a huge blessing to spend a few weeks at home and recharge our batteries, and as we jump into our final five months we are finding your support and care more precious than ever. One thing we have been discussing lately is how incredibly blessed and grateful we are to have such a strong community supporting us, both here in McLean and back at our respective homes. It would take pages to truly do justice to the past few weeks, so in the interest of your valuable time, I have conferred with my fellow Fellows and here is some of what we think is most important.
Throughout our winter retreat this January, we spent time exploring our vocation and calling in light of the intersection of our passion, personality, and principles. In between our week of eating delicious food, hiking up to frozen waterfalls, napping by the fireplace, and playing rousing games of Trivial Pursuit, we were able to spend precious time with Hugh Whelchel as he helped us begin the journey of truly understanding God’s call on our lives.
In his book, Wishful Thinking, Frederick Buechner writes, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” It is this understanding of what makes our hearts beat faster and our minds race with excitement that will begin to shape what God is calling us to. In light of this, throughout the week, we completed personality and strength-finders tests, all with the goal to recognize and begin to encourage one another in our gifts. However, beyond our passions, just as Buechner writes, we must also understand where the world most needs God’s Kingdom. It is the intersection of these two elements that will truly help us understand vocation. With Hugh, we talked in great detail about the Biblical perspective of “shalom.” Although this word is roughly translated as “peace,” shalom is to truly live in such a way that everything we do points to the restoration of God’s Kingdom that is taking place now and will be completed when Christ returns (the “now and not yet” paradigm). He helped us dive into the reality that we are saved by God for a purpose; that we are His agents of restoration. So when Paul writes in Galatians (our bible study book for the past four months!) that “the entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal. 5:14), he does not mean it is enough to simply practice intentional acts of kindness or good works. Rather, we must follow Luther’s advice and “ love our neighbor by doing our job well.” Whether we are leading a thriving corporation, fixing car at an auto shop, or raising our children at home, we must always remember that to do our best is to glorify God; to bring order out of chaos; to reach for shalom.
Another huge aspect of our time exploring vocation and calling was to discover two major elements that will lead us to a more concrete understanding of what God has placed in our hearts: to know our governing values and our personal mission statement. While I will be the first to admit that it sounded a little weird to write down a mission statement for my life, these exercises turned out to be absolutely invaluable! After all, the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 – one of the most well known and loved passages of Scripture – is essentially a list of values to live by. In discovering our own list of governing values (including things like generosity, community, integrity, and joy) we began to realize huge indications of who God has created us to be. We then followed up on theses values by creating a one-sentence mission statement. In essence, like any mission statement of any organization, this is to ensure that we are living on purpose and in light of who God has saved us to be. It reminds us who we are in Christ and will help us go into decisions with confidence and courage that we will stay true to who God is calling us to be.
As we headed back to the breakneck speed and intense competition of DC, we were sad to leave the peace and (dare I say) shalom of our time in Troy, Pennsylvania. After a week of relaxing in the beautiful home of our wonderful hosts (and new friends!), Jim and Cynthia Eckert, our minds were full, our bodies were relaxed, and we were (almost) ready to hit the ground running.
Due to the winter wonderland that Northern Virginia became in December, our final class with Dr. Garber was postponed until last Monday. As we finally presented our final papers, it was such a wonderful reminder of how different we all truly are. From Pierce’s study on the ills of politics, to Sabrina’s scientific debunking of nihilism, to Lauren Bleam’s plea for truth in art, to Kelly’s search for something more than profit in business practices, our presentations truly revealed why this program is so incredible. We are finding that although our passions and callings are radically diverse, in the end we are all responding to a creation that cannot help but cry out to the glory of God.
As we begin these final months as Fellows, the weight of the near future seems heavier everyday. With jobs to seek out and grad schools to apply for, we would humbly request that you continue to pray for God’s guidance and providence to lead us toward His calling on our lives. Our prayer is that we would seek Him above all else, for it is only through truly knowing Him that we will know anything else at all.
In Hope & With Faith,