A couple weeks ago, just before my move to Atlanta, I went to see Brendan James play while I was visiting some family in Washington DC. It was a walk down memory lane. I’ve been hooked on his music since high school, back when Myspace was a thing. More than any other artist, his music has marked my life like a soundtrack.
In college I practically begged the guy to come play a show in Columbia and he was kind enough to oblige and to buy me a coffee to boot. We talked about his travels, my ambitions to travel the world, missions and dreams. I’m sure he doesn’t remember the words he told 19 year old me but they’re burned into my heart.
“You’re going to do good in this world, Kelsey.” He told me, predicting like a prophet that I would go on to be a minister or nonprofit guru somewhere. While that future is still unfolding, I’ve carried those words with me ever since. His music has been the audio memories to various phases of college, my time in Argentina and Charleston, giving me hope in the midst of heartache and homesickness alike.
Last week I made a big move to Atlanta to begin seminary at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. I’m in the middle of orientation now, surrounded by about 100 other MDiv students. It has been a long road to get here and I’m more than convinced that the next three years will be blessed.
As I get to know my peers and let them get to know me, I am realizing this: Of all degrees, I think perhaps theology degrees are most impacted by the person’s own point of view, their life experiences and convictions.
None of us are blank slates. I am not a blank slate. There have been raging storms and a still small voice that have lead me here to Candler.
I thought coming to Atlanta and starting fresh would help me close the book on my church hurts, on my painful ministry experience in Argentina, but unexpectedly God is showing me that I’ll never leave it behind. Instead what I thought was baggage is being built into something beautiful. What was intended for evil is becoming a driving force in the future of my ministry.
He hasn’t erased it at all. He has redeemed it. I’m not the person I was before. I’m the person that is here and is ready for this.
I think of the words of Brendan James’ song:
Nobody started from the place that you started from
And nobody hopes to go
Where you’re hoping to go
And nobody out there wants the life you do
‘Cause none of them are you
None of them are you