I am begging for there to be a subtitle to the Raleigh Fellows Program. The fine print in italics needs to include “Raleigh Fellows: Prepared to Get Emotionally Wrecked”. It will be the behind the scene blooper to all of the fun pictures where we wear matching sweatshirts and attempt to be semi-adults. This authentic documentary will shed light on the soul-searching, mind-blowing and unearthing conversations that happen off of the Instagram reel.

Apparently if you are a Christian and live in Raleigh, North Carolina you simply cannot exist without knowing your Enneagram number. I like to think of it as a horoscope for your personality and motivations. In the world of Enneagram language I have learned that I am a Seven which is code for “The Enthusiast”. Contrary to popular belief “The Enthusiast” isn’t your typical cheerleader throwing pom-poms in your face or your average hype man (well, only sometimes). Sevens are described as whimsical dreamers who are driven by fun and motivated by the need to be happy. The default of the Seven is to avoid pain and difficult seasons by covering up the hard things with happiness or simply opting out of entertaining the hurt that lies beneath the surface. An invitation for the Seven is to learn to weep and notice where pain is deriving from.

When I first read the description my verbal response was “Woof”. This year as a Fellow has been deeply rich and rejuvenating, but also completely against the grain of how I am accustomed to operating. I have lived my 22 years of life up until now learning how to push things to the side, promising myself that I will eventually look at it again only to find an overflowing pile of miscellaneous thoughts that have never been properly managed. So you can IMAGINE the process of my naturally distracted-self entering a 9 month program that digs into the depths of pain with the hope of healing.  

I have had to put words to hurt and look it in the eyes without the option of running away. The past 5 months have been a process of sifting through areas that I have put on hold and being brave enough to lean in. Our director Ashley read us a poem by Jim Branch that reads:

“years and years of hard work diligently putting it all together piece by piece

thinking all is well

progress is being made

but then you

come and scramble the whole picture leaving pieces scattered everywhere

you lovingly smile

as I sit in the middle of the mess that I don’t know knowing that I’m undone

and thinking to yourself

now that’s progress”

Most days in Raleigh I feel undone and eagerly want see the fruits of being placed back together. With every class and conversation and unveiling, I am reminded that progress is being made in the in-betweens. I am reminded how gentle the Lord has made us but also how gracious He is to weep and walk alongside of us. I am reminded that He who promised is faithful and that faithfulness will not end with me.

So if you are a potential Fellow out there reading this, don’t say I didn’t warn you. But I also want to add a subtitle to the subtitle that says “Raleigh Fellows: Prepared to Get Emotionally Wrecked: But Also Be Prepared to Begin to Heal and Dance in Freedom and Experience Deep Grace and Transforming Love and Learn What It Actually Looks Like to Be Sought After by Jesus.”

That’s all I have for now folks.


Emily Magnus