It is said that a pilgrimage is a journey, often to an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about themselves, others, or in my case, God. Such journeys can lead to personal transformation, after which the pilgrim will return to daily life. That may be the case for most out there, and may have been the pinnacle of journey’s I’ve taken in the past, but the YouthStorm Internship, for me, is not ending in a return to who I once was, because I can confidently say – I am not her anymore. You can read about my journey over the last couple of years in Q&A format below.
Who were you when you first started this internship journey?
– Before the internship, I was riddled with anxiety in approaching or being around any of our Apostolic leaders — I could barely look any of them in the face. Everyone at church knew me as “the writer” of the community, but I would say a lot of people didn’t really know the “real me,” and I would use my words as a way to hide instead of letting the reality of my messy heart unfold before others. Instead of allowing my words to have power and call others upward, I stayed in the valleys, unrepentant, prideful, bitter and angry, lazy, riddled in debt, and seriously considered leaving the Church altogether. This was rooted in my deep refusal to look at where I was responsible for these circumstances, but the internship caused me to open my eyes and face reality.
What are the top three specific tools the internship has taught or provided you?
1. Living (and Writing) from a Place of Victory – This was probably the biggest for me during the second year. During the first year, Stephanie was always encouraging us to pray from a place of victory; however, I still wrote from a place of an old victim mentality. As we worked on the Encounter Devotional, Stephanie specifically said “write from a place of victory,” and it changed everything for me. I want to write from and for the Higher Place moving forward!
2. Capacity – During the first year, I would always gripe about our “Thursday Mornings” because I have never been an early bird, but by the end of first year and throughout this entire year, mornings in general have become a staple thing for me. Thursday’s have taught me that I can make it through anything mentally hard and difficult when I pull from Heaven in every hour (because sometimes that’s the case on an Internship Thursday). That looked like sometimes praying in tongues on my walking breaks at work, taking an extra breath when dealing with a difficult customer, and especially standing up in class (during first year) if I found myself dosing off.
3. Intentionality – I’ve been working on the intentionality of being a good friend and showing up for those around me. In light of the harvest we’ve been promised, sometimes that can be a sacrifice, but when the sacrifice is for the Kingdom and you are intentional about it, the hard work of allowing yourself the gift in being seen is worth the momentary pain of working through exhaustion or putting aside emotions for the sake of what needs to get done.
Who are you now? How have you changed?
– I have changed. I’m not the same person I was before the internship. God is calling me to a higher place, and I have been grafted into this Body for a reason. I no longer feel like I have a lack of purpose or vision for being here. I am a seen, known, and loved member of this community, and that knowledge has come from the deep revelation that I am seen, known, and loved first by God. I write from a place of victory, and I know the message He has given me to herald to the watching world in this time. I have deeply lived the story He wants me to tell, and that story is one where I sink deeper and He gets the glory lifted High. As a result, I become free in who He created me to be. My desire to be One with Him has increased a hundred-fold and my perspective on being an authentic witness to the world has deepened in ways that have marked me and changed me for life.
Was the rigorous schedule, the dying to self/desires/plans, the inconveniences, the tears … all the challenges and difficulties – was it worth it? Why?
– Dying to my desires, self, and plans was worth it. I had been working on a really big project that was glorifying a broken identity and wandering spirit. When I started the internship, I quickly realized this was not the story I wanted to herald to the world, and God gently showed me the story He wanted me to tell — it is about Him, the One who invites people into a story of sinking deep into a place they can call home and how freedom is found there. I had to give up a lot more than just a project for Him, though… I lost and let go of a lot of people I cared for deeply, but in the end, I decided that being a witness of Truth was worth it, and it has been. I have only gained clarity, vision, and purpose as a result of losing everything I thought I wanted.
How do you see or plan to apply what you have learned to your life after graduation? And how do you keep the transformation real and on-going, not shrinking back to ‘the old you’?
– A lot of this journey for me has been about learning how to let myself be seen, known, and loved through the simple act of showing up and using my voice, spoken and written. Last year, I said nothing would change and a big reason I entered into year two was because it did. I believed I wouldn’t backslide, I believed I’d continue showing up… For a while I did, but I allowed circumstances to bring me back down and confuse me. As a result, I started operating out of a place of brokenness and hiddenness again. But I have had such a deep encounter with God through the process of being in second year and consecrating myself to His ways that when I say nothing changes this time, I truly do mean it. I will still show up to prayer hours on Monday and Thursday, and I will attend prayer burns when they are scheduled (because I genuinely love intersession, praying, and leaning in that way). I will still show up to the page and write. I will still make this ministry of words and recording things a constant in my life; (there is a lot on the horizon that I am so excited for!). I will continue to dream big and follow those dreams with the Holy Spirit. I will allow myself to unfold, become, and influence through the deep place of being confident in my choices and knowing that He has called me.
What is your exhortation to the Crossing Life Church family based on what you have learned and how you’ve been changed?
– Enter in. It does’t have to look like the form of an internship. But if it’s not, choose to enter in through all the avenues we have available. Show up. Be all here. When there are events, be fully present. When there are opportunities to pray and serve, participate. When there are times where you want to say “no,” say “yes” instead and watch God move you into a brand new level. However, no amount of me or anyone telling you to enter in will convince you; it has to be your choice alone. I can tell you this much: By entering in, you will learn to stand whole and confident. By learning to stand confident, you will reap what you sow and give of yourself — reward, harvest, and riches unimaginable in Jesus. And as a result of reaping what you sow, you will learn to navigate stormy waters and high mountains with grace. The invitation is there — it’s yours for the taking!