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 smile lovingly

as I sit in the middle of the mess

knowing that I don’t know

knowing that I’m undone

and thinking to yourself

now that’s progress

Jim Branch

A month has already gone by. Wow. I can so clearly remember our first morning out on Lake Gatson. As we worshiped on the dock, I looked around at a group of people I had just met. I was in awe. Without even knowing these people, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the Lords faithfulness to bring me to that moment. I felt a sense of peace. Peace knowing that I was exactly where I needed to be.

On that dock, Ashley read us a poem that I will never forget. Undone by Jim Branch. “You smile lovingly, as I sit in the middle of the mess, knowing that I don’t know, knowing that I’m undone, and thinking to yourself, now thats progress.” Those were some powerful words on paper, but I had no idea how much it would describe my next four weeks in Raleigh.

The word undone. Thats a pretty terrifying word. I don’t know about you, but I like to have my life in order. I like comfort. I like predictability. And to be honest, thats what I’ve been living in this past year. I’m not saying that the Lord hasn’t done some incredible work during my time at Auburn University (war eagle.) But by the end of senior year, I was living a very predictable lifestyle surrounded by comfort. I had found my community and I had found my routine. If things ever got hard, I was an hour drive from home. These aren’t bad things in themselves, but I had become reliant on them. My security so often was found in the predictability of life instead of in the Lord.

However, I came to realize that even when my life seemed “put together” externally, I was a wreck internally. No matter how comfortable life felt, nothing could satisfy the true desire of my heart: the presence of the almighty God.

That is where Raleigh Fellows comes in. Let me start by saying this program is A M A Z I N G and if you are a college senior trying to figure out your next step- it would be a mistake not to pick up the phone and call Ashley Crutchfield. The Fellows Program truly equips you as a believer in every way as you make the transition from college to “adult” life. I have never felt more surrounded by people who deeply love Jesus and one another. These people CARE. The love of Christ is so evident in EVERY PERSON (I love them all so much) by the ways they radiate joy and intentionally invest in one another. I will already argue that our fellows class is the best one that has ever existed. Give us a #follow on the insta and you will see. You will wish you were a part of our weekly dance parties. I’m not kidding, these people are amazing.

But when I came into this program, I knew that the Lord wanted much more for me than the comfort I had been living in. Before moving to Raleigh four weeks ago, I prayed hard. I prayed that the Lord would use these nine-months to transform me by challenging, stretching, and refining my heart. And that is what He has begun to do- and its hard. When I pulled out of my driveway in Montgomery, Alabama one month ago, I was leaving behind every comfort I had ever known. I packed up and left the state I have always lived in, the family and friendships I had invested in, and the predictability of life. That was the most terrifying yet also most exciting thing I have ever done. That afternoon I pulled into the city of Raleigh, NC where I didn’t know a soul.

Over this past month, I have become totally and completely undone. I have been challenged and refined in my faith in ways I had never experienced until now. Satan has tried over and over again to attack my heart and thoughts with fears and insecurities more than ever before. These past four weeks have brought me to my knees. But in that place, the place of the undone- I have experienced Jesus more than ever before. I have come to the end of myself- which is a place where I must truly and fully rely on Christ. The sweetness of my Savior’s presence has met me in the middle of my mess. The comforts of my life have become completely undone. But that’s exactly where the Lord wants me to be. Its where the transformation begins.

Now thats progress.

Emme Slaton