Application deadline: February 17, 2023
A YASC Reflection: Amelia Bjelland Brown, Diocese of Albany
Our twenties are a crucial time, the crossroads between who we are and who will become. Never have I felt that crossroad more profoundly than when I stepped on board the AirCanada plane for London. I was leaving behind everything and everyone I’d ever known for something entirely new, with only faith in God’s plan to lead me. In single moment I felt both freedom and terror. Freedom to discover who I truly am and who God truly wants me to be, but also fear now that I no longer had the safety net of who I’d always been. Would I be enough?
Like every 23 years old, when I showed up to Holy Cross Monastery for YASC discernment last February, I thought I knew who I was. I carried an air of manufactured confidence that I didn’t always feel, but it worked for me. I’d spent most of my childhood and adult life being defined by the Church because of who my parents were. Because my dad was both a priest as well as part of our diocesan leadership, everyone knew us. I got my summer jobs and first full time position partly through my parents’ connections. Perhaps that was what made London so new; it is the first time that I define myself by my faith, not necessarily the faith of my family.
London doesn’t sound like the most obvious mission posting. Sometimes I struggle to find myself worthy of the term “missionary.” It’s those moments, however, that I am missing the entire point of YASC. This is a year to fully let go of control, and allow God to take the lead. YASC is a year about relationships; it is about our relationship with God and our relationships with each other. It’s also about building up the bonds of love across the Anglican Communion and Body of Christ itself. Perhaps the best summary of the point of YASC is Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Through this process, one of my favourite verses has been 1 Peter 4:10: “Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” No matter where we are in the world, from rural Philippines to downtown London, YASC is about serving others. Moreover, God doesn’t cease to call us to serve other after this year ends. As the maximum says, today is the first day of the rest of our lives. God doesn’t prepare us and equip us for this year; He shapes us for all those to come. The faith that we grow, the skills that we learn, and the relationships that we encourage, we are meant to carry all of it with us from this point on.
No two YASC-ers are alike. No two placements are alike. Yet, I think we all share in this experience. Our former lives are—in part—stripped away, leaving only us, at our core. We have no need to live up to expectations or reputations that precede us. Instead, we become something of a blank slate, ready for God to shape and mould into the people He desires us to be. By faith, we let Him. That’s what I learned more than anything else these last few months. When we trust God to change us, He can. Because we are enough.