Reflection by Chaplain Intern Emmie Arnold

5 of the Most Important Things I've Learned as a Princeton Presbyterians Intern by Emmie Arnold

1. The best conversations happen over food and drink.

Whether it’s finishing the bread and cup after communion or a getting a meal or cup of tea somewhere in Princeton, being nourished helps us to be able to articulate our deepest thoughts. I’ve been so blessed by conversations with students and community members. They have asked me questions about life and faith and shared with me their secrets, deepest worries, and most daring hopes for the future. We have laughed and grown together in God’s love and we have been able to give each other love because of that faithful, endless love of God. 

I’m going to miss these frequent meals and cups of tea. My beloved conversation partners, stay in touch. I want to hear how these questions and dreams keep forming within your hearts.

 Photo of graduate students celebrating the 500 anniversary of the Reformation at the Tap Room. Tradition has it Luther said, "It is better to think of church in the alehouse, than the alehouse in the church."

Photo of graduate students celebrating the 500 anniversary of the Reformation at the Tap Room. Tradition has it Luther said, "It is better to think of church in the alehouse, than the alehouse in the church."

 

2. I could be a pastor someday.

I believe that I have a very specific call on my life to be a pediatric hospital chaplain. It makes total sense based on where I’ve come from and where I want to go with my gifts and openness to build new skills. However, I’ve been surprised by just how much I’ve enjoyed helping to shape worship services; preaching sermons that I’ve delicately crafted with the help of the Holy Spirit; building long-term relationships in the name of God; and facilitating Christian education events, especially Bible studies. God may bring me to many places and help me to enter wildly different roles throughout my career in ministry. I’ve become more open to possibilities. The thought of a long and winding path in ministry no longer terrifies me – it gives me joy. 

 Photo of charge to the Chaplain Interns near the end of the 2017-2018 academic year.

Photo of charge to the Chaplain Interns near the end of the 2017-2018 academic year.

 

3. Introverts can be great leaders in a highly extroverted job.

Every single member of the 2017-2018 Princeton Presbyterians team is an introvert. I’ve realized that, rather than an impediment to ministry, my introversion has been something that can offer a breath of fresh air to my conversation partners. Every single member of our team brings uncommonly strong gifts when it comes to listening and asking thought-provoking questions in response. I believe this is due in part because of the quietness that reigns in our souls. Though we all go home and crash after events with high numbers of people, it’s so worth it to be ourselves and embrace who we are.

 Photo of Breaking Bread Worship.

Photo of Breaking Bread Worship.

 

4. Even just one person showing up is enough.

There are times when it feels like there’s no room at the inn because so many people show up. There are times when nobody shows up. There are times when a handful or even just one person shows up. The times when a small to mid-sized number of people show up are far more frequent than the moments when there’s no room at the inn. (Honestly, those super crowded moments are pretty stressful, anyway.)

There is great peace in this though: Christ would have died for me even if I had been the only person in existence. With this joyful and incredible truth in mind, this year, God has taught me to focus less on the number of attendees at an event and to instead see the beauty and transformation that happens when two or more are gathered in Christ’s name. 

 

5. Teamwork makes the dream work.

I hate this cliché phrase, but this year, it’s been true. To be totally frank, I was nervous when I learned that I wouldn’t be the only intern this year. I tend to believe that I do my best work alone, and group projects often leave me feeling annoyed by the imperfections of others and myself. However, this year has given me so much more faith in my ability to work in a group. More importantly, it’s caused me to believe much more in the potential of group members to inspire one another and go places that we couldn’t have found on our own. 

    “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb

The five of us (three interns with Len and Andrew as our courageous leaders), as well as our beloved music minister, have been a loving team, gently challenging one another to grow and constantly encouraging one another. Together, we have been able to craft unique and faithful worship services; learn more about who God is and how we can respond to God’s unending and unbelievable grace; and imagine new opportunities for Princeton Presbyterians.

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