The RUF Internship: A Shameless Job in a Shame-Filled World

Orientation 2019 Recap

Eleanor Weldie  |  June 10, 2019

Midnight at the airport feels like an alternate world. Certain thoughts run through my head as sleepy pilots and coffee-guzzling flight attendants slowly walk by: Did I fall through some kind of interdimensional portal into another universe? Why does something as mundane as an airport McDonalds look so alien when the lights are dimmed? Will my flight take me to a magical place that gives Narnia a run for its money?

I am not an experienced traveler. I don’t frequent trains or planes, and I certainly am no expert at navigating otherworldly airports at midnight. That fact is painfully obvious to me as I sit in a cracked chair at gate A18 in Dallas, a city I don’t know and have no connections in, at, you guessed it, midnight. I’m here because I just finished New Intern Orientation for RUF…but I’m really here because I didn’t double check my plane ticket, and I’m leaving not at 7pm on Friday, but 7pm on Saturday. A full 24 hours later. As I reflect on that fact, a whole gamut of new thoughts go streaking across my brain, and these are certainly not as fantastical as the previous. How could I do something so dumb? Am I cut out to be an adult at all? Did I make a huge mistake, not just in my flight, but in my job as a whole?

You see, the RUF Internship isn’t something that’s as easy as waiting out a flight for a full day. It’s harder than that because it requires humility in the face of a prideful heart, total dependency in a self-sufficient world, and a counter-cultural approach to finances that challenges yourself and others to live in God’s upside-down economy of grace. All of that comes with an unbelievable amount of shame, plus a lot of us incoming interns are young men and women just now learning to navigate the world and making mistakes (like misreading plane tickets) that just add to that shame. We can easily eat up our shame pies and grow timid when we should be bold, like Peter denying Christ at the moment he should have stood up for Him. We can try to hide, like Adam and Eve foolishly hiding themselves from a God who sees all in the Garden. We can refuse to trust totally and instead take matters into our own hands, like Jonah running from the God who called him to the enemy country, Nineveh. It’s easy, it’s so easy, to fall into the shame of believing this isn’t a real job, you won’t actually “grow up” during your two-to-three years, or that you’re just taking others’ money rather than contributing yourself.

But our Father is a good and gracious God. He used Peter, Adam and Eve, and Jonah. In fact, He always uses broken people to carry out His kingdom on this earth. One way God so graciously worked in my own heart, battling the twin demons of shame and pride, at June Orientation was meeting the other amazing young people who are convinced that God is calling them to this crazy, weird, wonderful job with me. As different groups went around countless hotel, restaurant, and coffee-shop tables telling testimonies, something dawned on me – we were all broken, we all have pasts and shameful moments. And I was reminded of what makes RUF so great in the first place: it is a community that shines a light into the darkness of mistakes, shame, and brokenness, and proclaims, boldly, God has made a way for you – He has forgiven you, accepted you. He finds you worthy and delights in you, and we will strive to do that, too, because God did it for us first. Orientation convinced me that, yes, this job will be hard and feel foreign at times, but God is at work, always, and He’s using even the seemingly shameful moments to bring His glory to countless college campuses. How lucky are we that we get to be a part in that? Tell me, where is the shame in that?

So as I wait out my twenty-four hours in the Dallas airport, I will be reminded that my Lord, savior, and best friend is making everything new even tonight, even as I make mistake after mistake. The gospel allows for mistakes, for pasts, for vulnerability and difficult days. But the gospel has absolved us of our mistakes and our past shame – we can boldly walk in a certain faith that proclaims we are beloved sons and daughters of a good Father. Furthermore, our Father will use us, as incoming interns, in ways more enchanting and magical than midnight airports, for His glory. We will call the college freshmen, struggling with the shame of feeling different from his peers, into a community that understands him. We will walk alongside the hard things with the junior as she tries to reconcile the mistakes she made in the past and remind her that those mistakes are not where her identity lies. We will talk with the senior, unsure if she can trust anyone, about how our savior can always be trusted. We will continue to make mistakes, but we will put shame to death and trust wholeheartedly in our God who is shamelessly bringing His kingdom down from the heavens and into our lives.

by: Eleanor Weldie, RUF Intern at the University of Maryland