by Katie O'Malley
Class of 2021
A mentor of mine always reminded me that God gives us the gift of hindsight so that we can look back at former circumstances and see grace, blessings, and growth. We are often so caught up in trying to plan for the future, that we forget to look back and reflect. This mentor urged me not to live this way; there is much gratitude to be found through counting our blessings.
Since finishing the Peninsula Fellows program last May, I have moved to Washington D.C., started a role as the Conferences and Events Coordinator at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), and embarked on the journey that is adulthood. The last year has been a mix of uprooting and resettling paralleled by a series of affirmations that I am on a good path. I am fortunate in that the CCCU has a Fellow from the Falls Church program, and I get to work alongside her, causing me to reflect on my own fellows year often.
After a year, I have had the space to view the Peninsula Fellows program in hindsight. One thing I have determined through this reflection and discussions with my co-worker Fellow is: the fellows year is a hard year. Recent college graduates are already in a volatile stage of life which is compounded by moving to a new place, starting a new job, and living with new people. By nature, the program involves a ton of vulnerability and unfamiliarity, with a busy schedule as the icing on the cake.
That being said, I do not think the fellows year is meant to be easy.
I was a Division 1 sprinter in college. The way that a 200-meter dash competition works is: everyone runs as fast as they can and whoever reaches the finish line first wins. However, what I just described grossly understates the amount of practice that goes into that short race. I spent hundreds of early mornings doing the hard work of practicing block starts and running mechanics so that when I race, it would all come easily, like second nature.
This is what the fellows program does. It is a hard year requiring lots of energy and focus, but the result is: the integration of faith to the rest of your life comes easily, like second nature. Essentially, the fellows year is a practice year for adulthood.
Honestly, the day-to-day of adulthood is exactly what you might think: you wake up, you work for eight hours, you eat dinner, and you go to sleep. Yet God calls us to have life and have it abundantly. How do we have abundant life within the cycle of eat, sleep, work, repeat? God also reminds us that our days are numbered, our life is but a mist. Through the fellows program, I have found that life is lived in the minutes of every day. With your waking breath, God is there. With every email typed in the work day, God is there. With every load of laundry, God is there. Through the classes, intentional communication, and supportive community, the fellows year instills this thought process into its participants. It is an arduous practice year for a consistent and abundantly faithful adult life.
To be clear, after completion of a fellows program the integration of faith to other realms of life is not effortless, just like running quickly still requires energy. Rather, it feels familiar, part of the routine.
This is but a brief synopsis of what my hindsight has shown me about the fellows year, and truthfully, I am still processing a lot of it. However, one more thought I would like to mention is: the people running a fellows program are doing A LOT. They are in control of finding a home, finding a job, and ensuring the spiritual well-being of young adults who are in a volatile place. This is no small endeavor. I am so grateful for Mark and Lois Shaw, Becky and Chris Chappell, the Peek family, the Kuehni family, and the many others who supported and cared for me throughout all of last year. You are a gift.
1. John 10:10
2. Psalm 90:12
3. James 4:14