Living Out A Grander Story

Claire Johnson - CHI 2013 participant

I’m going to be honest: I am one of the least qualified candidates for the position of CHI intern. Perhaps it’s due to the myriad of paradoxes in my life–I’m an English major studying medicine, for example–but I don’t often feel as if I have a comfortable niche in this life. I am a storyteller, interested in the lives of those around me and how I can glorify the Lord through creating happier endings. Far from hindering me, I view this discomfort as a great blessing because it serves to keep me humble, knowing that no good thing comes to me from personal merit, but solely from above.

I applied for the CHI internship several months ago prayerfully, realizing that the pool of qualified, 4.0 GPA applicants filled a wide hoop that I did not fit into. Although I knew acceptance was a stretch, when I came across the program something deep inside my heart whispered go. The opportunity seemed to speak to the hidden part of my passion that longs to live in this worldly culture but not of it, to be a part in a grander story. In Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles In a Thousand Years, he describes story as “any character that wants something and overcomes conflict to get it”, which brings me to ask myself what kinds of conflict define my day-to-day life? Petty arguments with my friends? Stress over grades/relationships/desires? Reading Miller’s novel brought to my attention that I was created for conflicts bigger than the ones I’ve been living. I’ve been living a story focused on the mundane details of my own life, when I’m called towards a story that encompasses the breadth of humanity.

Acceptance into the CHI program caused conflict in my home: my wonderful parents could not understand what part of me felt the need to intern 9 hours away from home, to work without pay, to uproot myself the summer before my senior year at Hope College. Surely these opportunities are everywhere, they said; however, after hearing my excitement and watching the CHI video, they quickly were sold to the eternal impact of the opportunity with the Siloam Institute. My sweet mother gave me the best commendation when she mentioned that the CHI internship seemed like something my favorite author, Bob Goff, would endorse: a summer spent loving others and loving God by doing. By being present. By writing a greater story.

As I write this I’m sitting at my home in rural Michigan. My brother sits across from me watching the movie A Knight’s Tale, and I’m realizing that like the movie’s protagonist I hope that I, too, can “change the stars”; both the stars of my own monotonous existence and the stars of worldwide healthcare. With the Lord beside me I look forward to the upcoming summer to help me understand my role in that change, and to beckon me onward to adventure. Onward to a bigger story. Onward to a love that does.

Editor’s note: Claire is one of six pre-medical students from across the country who will spend the summer in Nashville in a Community Health Immersion.

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