There’s a lots of moving parts, but here’s my best shot at an attempt at summing up four heavy but growth-filled months of what I can look back in hindsight and call the deconstruction of my childlike faith.

Every summer since coming to Cal Poly, I’ve tried everything to escape spending my summer at home.

Spring quarter rolls around – and I go from skipping happily to my own beat to getting swept up in the “go big or go home” current. Next thing I know, my pride is drowned in comparison. I’m lucky to be surrounded by intelligent and driven and curious people – but I allow the all-or-nothing culture of Cal Poly to define my summer as worthy only if it can be quantified by miles or dollars. It’s a vicious cycle and you’d think 3 years later I’d learn to love my homebody heart – but hey, we’re getting there.

Something always ends up dragging me back to Gig Harbor – and every time I’m better off for it.

This summer, I thought I had finally won the run away game. I locked myself into a prestigious internship in my dream city. But after a Spring Quarter that knocked me sideways – I sucked up my pride to prioritize my mental health and come home to unpack baggage that needed attention in a place where I was held and loved.

Home would be safe because there would be no God talk. A safe place to grieve the loss of my childlike faith and quit trying to rebuild it on quicksand. Normally, I tend to struggle with the absence of faith-perspective at home – but for the first time, I was thankful to be in a place that I had previously always deemed spiritually empty. There are no prayers and no Christian music and Sundays at church are rare and no questioning of God’s presence.  

However, both good days and bad revealed to me that the divine dwells in and around every space – no matter how I, or the people around me, choose to name it.

I see little glimpses of the trinity come alive in the corners of my life where the name of God is rarely mentioned.

Perhaps I can’t completely shake the hope a God with the character of a loving father figure because of the example embodied to me by my own father. After another summer of being best pals with my old man, I am thankful for our relationship of truth, trust, and ambition. He offers nothing but the best for me, but in a way that he wants me to win but doesn’t let me. He freely offers to reach out his hand to me but doesn’t force me to take it. He acknowledges my weaknesses, but assures me with time they will only enhance my strengths. I hope, and am starting to believe, this might just be the way our creator sees us, too.

My mother carries herself with a resilience and compassion that lives and breathes Christ. Ironically – this is a woman whose roots run deep in fear and betrayal. She is a walking contradiction that is gentle and bold, deep and lighthearted, and to me, Christ in the way she is carries around deep pain and chooses to cultivate it deeper love. She displays the courage to change the things she can, the grace to accept the things she can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference.

And for the first time in what seems like forever, I feel the holy spirit alive in myself and the relationships I pour into and the spaces I live in. I am thankful for Abby who teaches me about the magic of believing in my worth and Olivia who reminds me to slow down and cherish simple togetherness and Zac who would never want me to never settle for anything that doesn’t fill up my heart tank. I’m thankful for my siblings who may be younger but have SO much to teach me. They’ve reminded me that that light is always present – but when we choose to lean into it, it multiplies.

Richard Rohr’s words “God loves things by becoming them” constantly ruminated in the back of my head this summer when I couldn’t deny the presence of the divine in and around me.

I hope I choose to recognize the soreness of my heart as evidence of it growing stronger.

I’ve shed a lot of old layers that needed to go – and it took a type work and patience and grit that I never knew I was capable of. It has been in no way glamorous or easy but I’ve kept my head up and heart open and climbed my way out of a pit. I tiptoe around that pit from time to time and wonder what will come out of it.

A lot of the what I’ve learned in this season I think will be found more in hindsight – as I walk further along and grow into my new self and back into my favorite parts of my old self. But I’ve found that trying to explain the past does not serve me in the same way moving forward does. Here’s to flipping the page and moving boldly into the next chapter.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Audree Aronson says:

    Here’s to moving boldly into the next chapter!!! I’m so excited for you. Your writing reminded me of this Philippians verse..
    Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
    Hugs to you Riley. ❤️


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