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Alex Bartlett is a graphic design resident with The Austin Stone Community Church.

Soon, Something New

 
 Photo taken by  Lawton Cook

Photo taken by Lawton Cook

 

April could be summed up in one word, “preparation”. From day one to thirty, I’ve been grinding away trying to put my portfolio website into perfect shape. There’s a lot to consider really. Which projects should I include? What types of skills do I need to emphasize or communicate through the projects that I show? With a lot of careful consideration and partnership with some really talented friends, I’m actually really excited to tell you that as you read this post, the rest of my site is live! Go ahead, I don’t even care if you click away from the post (but maybe come back afterwards). Just be sure to comment below and tell me your thoughts!

All of this preparation has focused my attention to the fact that my time is quickly coming to a close here at The Austin Stone. I can’t believe just under two years ago, I drove into a completely new town with little-to-no friends. From that then on to now I’m really thankful for the people that have been apart of my life and have caused me to start calling Austin home. With that, I thought I’d give a quick overview of how my life has changed and how I’ve matured in four key areas during my time as a resident.

1. Myself

Probably the most obvious area of growth has definitely been internal. Clearly, I’ve already said a ton about this topic over the last two years so instead of repeating myself, I thought I’d highlight some of my favorite posts here instead. 

 
 

2. My job

 Something I didn’t really consider being a big impact in my time here is my co-workers. I knew they’d be important in my skill development for sure, they’ve been doing great work long before I came along. What I didn’t expect was how much skill would take a back seat to character. Far past their incredible abilities as employees, these guys and gals have demonstrated how to handle conflict, how to encourage someone honestly, and how to go take genuine care of the people around them exceptionally well. It’s become too clear that having a boss or mentor who takes time to specifically help you process non-work related questions and feelings can be rare. I’m specifically most thankful for my mentor Ben and boss John. Getting to talk through what I was struggling with or how I was feeling about anything with someone who would be encouraging yet still challenging is rare, so having someone like Ben and John to debrief life as well as work with was incredibly significant in my development as an employee but most importantly a man.

3. My community

I honestly had a tough time finding solid friends the first year I was here in Austin. No one really tells you that moving to a big city you've never lived in before for your first job out of school is essentially a hard reset on everything you're doing in life. Your day to day schedule, you're local go-to spots, your friends, all of it completely restarts. As someone hardwired to be in conversation with friends pretty constantly, this was a hard shift to go from friends-o-plenty college life back to what felt like square one. I definitely had a few key friends that helped to make my first year in Austin really great, but it's taken much longer than expected to find some solid friends to regularly do life with. I've be really thankful for my current roommates and the community that they invited me into last year. It's been really great to have consistency in our interactions as friends every week to help foster growth our relationships. My favorite part has definitely been getting to witness how generous, kind, and above-and-beyond my friends are to anyone around them. Among many other traits, I'm really thankful to have guys and gals who like to hangout and intentionally get to know the people around them.

4. My city

I actually got asked a few weeks ago if I was worried about working for a non-christian organization. I sort of laughed as I thought about it because no, I’m definitely not worried at all. As I finish my employment at the Stone, I’m definitely not out the doors for good. But as I sat down with my boss one day at April’s start, I reminded him and myself of why I even started here in the first place. The Austin Stone Institute’s goal says nothing about training up future employees. ASI’s goals are to train up and send out. Even through two years of a really great job, my heart and mind are still bought into that mission and it’s been very clear through all of my consideration and prayer that the time has come to move on to what the Lord has for me next. Maybe that’s the corporate design world? Maybe it’s in-house for a local bank or regional business? I’ve been in Austin two years so far and feel as if I’ve just scratched its surface with all of the people and events happening within its zip codes. 

Just the other day these two guys walked up to me while I was in mid-jog (It’s was a bit awkward, I really don’t recommend it). They promptly asked me my thoughts on Jesus Christ and if I knew who He was. Rather than being annoyed or short, I was calm (and really out of breath) and able to encourage these guys by telling them that I did know Jesus. I wanted to be sure that they knew this Jesus guy wasn’t just a righteous gavel slammer or a just a really nice dude, but first and foremost my Savior, Lord, and God; that forgiveness at his hand and grace at his doorstep have been far better than any present I’ve been given or trip I’ve ever been on.

I think above anything else the conversation woke me up to the kind of potential conversations more commonly had outside of the church walls. I’ve gotten so used to all of my co-workers being so similar to me in their beliefs and lifestyles that I had forgotten what all of this training was meant for. It’s meant to be taken outside of the church walls.

I’m really excited to meet new people, to have them over for game night or to go hang out at a bar for some good conversation. I want friends who look different than me, talk differently than me, think different or believe differently than me. So I’m preparing my resume and portfolio for what's next. I’m not against working at a church or at a Christian non-profit but they won’t start in the crosshairs right out of the gate. I always want to be where the Lord desires me to be, and for now, it seems that might be onto something new.

 

 
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