“This summer will test you in ways you never imagined; it will take you from the mountaintop to the lowest valley, yet you will come out of it stronger than ever before.”
-Riley, 2021 Summer Student
Riley, is there any part of you that has developed during this process that wasn't there at the beginning of the summer?
I think one of the biggest things that I developed throughout the summer that wasn’t there in the beginning was my confidence in my work abilities as well as recognizing my confidence of who I am through the Lord’s eyes. At the beginning of the summer, I quite literally had no idea what I had to offer to the organization I was working with and didn’t know I could hold the skills that I now have. In the same way, I lacked confidence in how the Lord viewed me as His child and had a hard time seeing what He saw in me. Throughout the summer, lies about who I thought I was were thrown at me in ways I’d never experienced before and found myself struggling with how to combat them. But, through deep prayer, being in the word, Tuesday cohort meetings, and time with my mentor I started relearning how the Lord truly viewed me and my abilities that glorified Him. Additionally, I learned how to be truly vulnerable for probably the first time in my life and not be ashamed to show weakness, confess sins, admit doubts, and not hide from my feelings. This was a freeing experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to have been around while this took place in my life.
How has your faith been challenged or strengthened during your time with ServeHere?
My faith was challenged and strengthened in multiple ways but I think a lot of that stemmed from debriefing or deconstructing bad traits from my past that I had either picked up myself or was told I had to do or not do in my walk with the Lord. I think I was finally asked genuine questions that I had never been asked before about my faith and had people there who actually wanted to listen to my answers and give honest feedback to them. I think this is something I’ve always lacked when it comes to that area of community, so it was incredible to see what that should look like and strive to look for that same thing in the future. In this process, I learned how to be my true self in conversation and not worry about what others would think about my response, which is something I have struggled with for the longest time when it comes to discussing my walk with the Lord. Being in areas that made me feel safe and known helped a lot with that and I’m especially grateful for that part of ServeHere.
Did you meet anyone that impacted the way you view God, life, work, or family?
There were multiple speakers, specifically women, who just absolutely blew my mind during our conversations with them. I feel like they covered content that a lot of Christian women don’t typically cover and weren’t afraid to have a conversation about it, which was super encouraging and refreshing to hear. I took a lot away from those conversations in ways I’m not able to even write down and I just wish more people could hear what they have to say. [My mentor] also had a major impact on my summer in that we were able to relate in some very specific ways and have very specific conversations that I’ve never experienced with someone before and I’m eternally grateful for that. She pushed me in ways I needed to be pushed, but I was able to come to her comfortably in all of it, something that I’ve struggled to do with mentor figures in the past. She was so easy to talk to and from the get go I felt like I could share literally anything with her. I love her a whole lot for the way she influenced me this summer and know she’ll be around in my life for a while because of it!
Did you experience any heart change this summer?
One of the biggest heart changes I had this summer was my perspective towards work, specifically virtual work. I came into the summer, after a long time of having classes online and dragging through those, that I just wanted to get through each day of work and not take much from it. It was a hard transition period in the beginning to understand the value and fruit of what I was doing, but towards the middle and end I came to understand where my work was being used and how I was developing new skills. It was super cool to be at the GLS summit and see all of the materials that I had created, ordered, and put out for people to use and then get to advocate about the information on those materials.
A final letter from Riley to her former self:
Dear Graduate, this summer you will be tested and pushed in ways you never even imagined, yet in that, you will see some of the greatest growth in your walk with the Lord. You will learn to be vulnerable, show your weakness, cry tears, confess your sins, and genuinely reach out to the Lord, resulting in liberation and freedom. The confidence you lacked in yourself will be overturned by truly acknowledging how the Lord sees you in His eyes, be quick to cling to that and don’t let it fall away when the lies of this world come knocking at your doorstep.