This is a post from my series The Gospel of Enough, based on a theatre performance by George Fox University players. These stories happened in the past, but are written in first person so you can get a sense of my thoughts and feelings during each story as I worked through big emotions to get to where I am now. I hope you enjoy this journey with me.
I sit on the floor of the basement of the dorm, wringing my hands. I look anxiously from one person to another, to another, every face except one completely foreign and different and strange. Who are these people? How do I know them?
I am required to know them. And to have them know me.
I glance sideways at Jodi. We exchange a glance: what are we doing here???
This is the night before Walkabout, the yearly backpacking trip that all the RA’s take before the rest of campus fills up. I have never been backpacking before, but I’m stubborn enough not to make that fact too well known. I’ve never been an RA before either.
Of our staff of fourteen, only Jodi and I end up on this particular Walkabout group. Us little nineteen-year-old sophomores, with little experience under our belts and no knowledge whatsoever of what we are about to do are plunged into a group of second-year, upperclassmen RA’s. They know what they are doing. They reek of confidence and ease and popularity. I don’t have any of that.
I survey the gear before me: backpack, hiking boots, my personal tarp that is to be the only shelter I’ll have for a week, Nalgeens that look like they’ve been up mountains. I remember that they actually have.
One of the guys on the trip hands Jodi and I white garbage bags that supposedly hold two days worth of breakfast.
“Here you go guys. These are the lightest ones.” He says with a smile. Jodi grimaces at me and we finish stuffing our backpacks. My pack weighs more than anything I’ve ever carried on my back before…
Am I strong enough to do this?
And not just Walkabout. Am I strong enough to be an RA? I’m not a leader. Am I? No one has ever followed me.
What am I doing here?? I ask myself over and over as I swing the backpack onto my back the next morning at the trailhead. We hike in and I listen to Jodi laughing about something with one of the other people on our team.
The fear wraps it’s way around my heart, settling in a way I haven’t really felt it before. It grips its cold fingers around my arteries, freezing the causeways to my brain. Little shots of ice make their way to my mind.
You’re not a leader.
No one will follow you.
You tried that in high school, remember? You never led anyone and every time you tried no one seemed interested. Your best friend didn’t even listen to you, even when you were the president of a club she was a part of.
How will your peers ever listen to you?
They’re your own age. Some of them are older even. You’ll just be girl who gets them toilet paper. They won’t want you in their life.
You’re not worthy of this.
Don’t you remember what you’ve done?
I shake my head trying to ignore the cold, the ice, the pin-pricks of ice-burn that scar my mind and weaken my resolve. I’m forgiven, aren’t I? I can move on from the friend-group that exploded because of my bull-headedness and the roommate situation that failed a friendship because I simply decided I didn’t want to room with her any more?
Aren’t RA’s supposed to be perfect? Aren’t they supposed to be examples in their community of the way a “nice Christian” and a “polite Christian” and a “right Christian” are supposed to live?
Im scared I’ll get it wrong. I’m scared my past will come out from under me and reveal itself to people. What will happen when they see who I am? What I’ve done?
Because I’m not a “nice Christian” or a “polite Christian” or a “right Christian”.