I’m not entirely sure where November went, but all of a sudden it’s December 5th and November is over and it’s that time to reflect on the past month of Fellows yet again. This month has most definitely been the busiest month of Fellows thus far, with a regional Fellows retreat the first weekend, being in a friend’s wedding the second, family birthday celebrations the third, Thanksgiving the fourth, and my first PA school interview (conveniently in Kentucky hah hah) the fifth. I feel like I haven’t gotten a chance to take a breath, and that has left me feeling drained and disconnected from the program and the people in it in a lot of ways.

I forget when or where we talked about this, but at some point this past month we talked about busy-ness in a way that made me incredibly uncomfortable because it was convicting for me. Basically, we talked about how in the past the idol of our culture has been leisure, as in you know you had ‘made it’ when you no longer had to work, and could spend all of your time doing leisure activities. But now, the idol of our culture has shifted from leisure to busy-ness, and a constant competition between one another to see who is busier, because in that busy-ness we find our value and worth as a productive human being. And is that not often how I find my worth as well? That if I do enough things, fill my time with enough activities, or people, or work, that somehow after all of that I will find that what I’m doing is finally sufficient? But it never is, so I keep adding. Because that’s what we do, what I do, when our idol is busy-ness.

The whole concept of busy-ness is tricky, because there is a certain degree of that which is good, for the Lord designed us to work, and to work hard. But how much are we supposed to work? How much is too much? When is the last time we also listened to the part of His design for us that involved a full day of rest? There are so many questions and so few concrete answers, and that’s so hard. Because I want nothing more than to ‘fix’ myself and make myself do the right thing, and yet I can’t seem to. There are so many things that I’m learning in Fellows that are so convicting; I’m being forced to push the boundaries of how I think and why I think that way, and where to give grace and where to give up legalism. There’s so much that I want to absorb and take in to myself, and yet I just can’t seem to do it. And that leads to feeling like I’m not taking advantage of the resources I’m being given, which leads to guilt and sometimes to shame, the latter of which is never good. So how do we stop the cycle? Where does it end?

Something cool that we talked about in class last Monday was the difference between guilt and shame. And while talking about them, I realized I had never really articulated the difference between them, but I knew there was one. That day, I was finally able to articulate out loud what they each are, and I realized how vital it is to for me, and for everyone, to understand that difference. Guilt, which is inherently good, is our first sign of a sin committed. That recognition leads to conviction, which leads to the foot of the cross, where Jesus is patiently waiting for us to lay down our sins so He can forgive and gently wash us clean, clearing us of sin and guilt. Shame, on the other hand, does the opposite. Shame tells us that we are what is bad, not sin. Shame takes us away from the cross, and towards our own self. And this is where things get dicey, because shame tells us the opposite of what the gospel does, which is that we are never worthy, and always unapproachable and unforgiveable. Shame takes the truth of who Jesus says we are and twists it into a form beyond recognition, disallowing us from seeking Him and coercing us into seeking some ugly form of self-correction instead. Shame is what we have to FIGHT, because Jesus doesn’t want us to feel ashamed. He wants us to come to Him rather than to ourselves.

These are only a few things that I’ve learned this month, but I hope they give you a small peek into what Fellows is having me reflect upon and dig into. What I’m learning makes me uncomfortable sometimes, and it digs at things that I don’t always want to be sought after, but I’m learning and growing and that’s the point of this program. To push things that are difficult, for the sake of sanctification and learning to sit with Jesus more every day. It’s crazy to me that the Creator of the universe actually enjoys just sitting and being with us, but it’s the truth that I will always hold on to in the midst of so many other moving pieces.

Until next month –