A few weeks ago, I had the extreme pleasure to go back to College for a week and take a course in Christian Discipleship at Cliff College in Derbyshire with my fellow UK YAGMs. Firstly, It was so incredibly wonderful to see my friends from YAGM. I hadn’t seen them since we left each other at Orientation in August; So you can imagine the amount of energy circling the space. And secondly, Cliff College is located in the peak district; it was magnificent. Although it rained almost all day everyday during the week I was there; we had a serendipity moment when the rain quit, the sun shone as it was setting and we made friends with sheep and horses on our hike up a cliff. Thirdly, College… How was I supposed to focus when I was finally reunited with my friends from home. But after a catch up night at the local pub with my crew of 12 friends, it was time to start learning.
Before coming to Cliff College, I had few thoughts about discipleship mostly about Jesus’s disciples and how that could be a verb attainable by someone as clumsy, questioning and distracted as myself.
My only knowledge of Disciple- was that it came from the Latin word “discipulus” which means learner or student. Thank you Mr. Volk. I never expected to have my world rocked.
After the first day of lectures and presentations, I had a pretty good idea that I was in for a good shake up. God knows when I start to feel like I have more answers than questions and am getting comfortable because that’s when he rocks my world with something challenging… like re-evaluating my identity as a Christian.
That is a common trend in my life now. Re-evaluating myself. Do I really like easy mac or did I just eat it because it was available and my stomach was grumbling?? Turns out, I don’t like easy mac anymore. I think it tastes like play-doh. How many other things in my life have I done or do currently that I just do out of convenience and availability? What is really important? What makes me happy? What are my values? Direction? Goals? …
Every person I have met that has done YAGM says how transformative it is. But really how much can a person “really” change? I understand now. I feel and see a change in myself already and I have only been in England for three months.
Our first day at Cliff, we talked about vocation and accepting the call from God to serve. My head went bonkers with self admiration, “Boom”, feeling awesome! I did that! I answered the call to serve, I discerned like a champ, I am awesome. YAY YAY YAY!”
Sure, I took the leap of faith to get here but that’s not my calling or vocation. I have a continuous call to be more like Christ each day. Every morning, I wake up and am encouraged by God to live bigger, deeper, wider than the day before. My vocation is to walk alongside people as a faith filled person.
That’s ideal isn’t it? To be mindful everyday, to be thoughtful and God-loving in every action we make and every word we say?
I have been nourishing my faith with devotion, fellowship and loads upon loads of prayer. Still, living up to this particular call is beyond difficult. I fail at this everyday. But God never calls for perfection. (That is my motivation.)
If I put all my energy into God; my life is completely and amazingly fulfilled. I have felt my heart change, I don’t get easily angered, jealousy has left the building and patience is less of a virtue and more of a habit. I have also felt my mind change, I don’t glorify or desire things the way I used to. Going out on the town for a night out has lost its luster and the need for material things has gone awry.
My vocation is as much about being as it is about doing. So when I had a meeting with my dear friend, Phil, the Vicor of Claverdon Church and he said, “Chelsi, Don’t underestimate the power of just being.” I realized that my whole life I have been intoxicated by service, that it isn’t just a hobby but a way of life. I love people. I have many gifts and a wide variety of skills that I can apply to people through service. I have done so many jobs from nanny-ing, to building houses for Habitat, to Marketing, to Nursing, to Sales lady… they all have serving people in common. None of these jobs were ever to build me up and they were surely never about money.
I think I just realized what A) Aristotle means when he wrote, “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, their lies your vocation.” and B) How beneficial it is to listen and move, consistently taking leaps, jumps, hops in your faith.
So I am reaping many rewards in my life right now to living more like a disciple than a “Chelsi”. I no longer deal with debilitating depression. I only drink alcohol in celebration. If I see a need, I don’t hesitate to volunteer or try to be a support and for the first time in quite a long time I love myself. I haven’t been able to say that in quite some time. But I give God, a high five for creating such awesome people in his image. I have so much gratitude in my heart for everyone in my community, my host family, my family in NoDak, YAGM, TFG and every friend, mentor and family member that has supported me in this experience.