I had such an amazing experience yesterday working with my peers in creating a worship service. Somehow...with the Spirit's help no doubt...we all came together and we spoke the same language. For one incredible hour it just clicked - I didn't even mind the praise choruses!
But today I learned that there is not "space" for me to be part of the ongoing creation of such experiences. They offered to meet me to tell me why but I cannot. My heart is broken. I just wanted to do what God's given me to do. I wanted to serve and to share my gifts.
Sometimes I wish I didn't care so much. I wish I weren't so intelligent and opinionated too. I wish I wasn't so talented and passionate. I wish I could just be a normal person.
But I am not. And what I am is incredibly threatening. And very hard to work with.
I took great comfort that when I told my mother about my interview she said she and my aunt have the same problem. People tell her all the time, "You can't be so open and honest with people."
My family - my mom's side at +-least - is just candid. We- +are open books
so+-rry +my cat is lying all ov+-er the keyboard. Bless her. She always come -s when I am crying.
What an incredi------------------ble thing. +++---------more kitty love
I am candid and opinionated and passionate and smart and I want so badly to use what I have got to show other people the way to God.
For the next year at least, it's going to have to be on the blog, I suppose.
Please, may I ask you not to send me comments about God's other plans for me, or about how I would have been good and it's their loss, or even about 66666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666 the cat is going evil on me.
You know what I mean. Sometimes that doesn't help. But if you have pain - if the people of God have somehow stunted your growth, or made your gifts feel unwelcome, or made yourself feel inappropriate, then I want to hear it. Tell me your story.
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Ouch. That sucks.
A year ago, I was asked to resign from the leadership team at Pasadena Mennonite Church after it came out that I was living with my fiancee. I was floored that this would matter to them, and floored that it mattered so much to me when they asked me to step down. I couldn't stay. I don't blog it at my place, but it's why I went back to All Saints. It still stings.
Blessings, sister fem.
The vestry has chosen to eliminate the staff position I hold at the parish where I work. Our rectors (we had co-rectors) are gone, and the interim won't arrive until September at the earliest. The vestry created a position of assistant rector, and didn't consider me for it (despite that this is precisely the position I'm most often being considered for elsewhere; after all, I'm fifteen years out of seminary, am due to be ordained in less than a year, and have considerable experience in ministry). From what I understand, the new assistant (who hasn't graduated from seminary yet, and has no parish staff experience) won't, in all likelihood, arrive before I'm gone, so the parish has chosen to have NO PROGRAM STAFF WHATSOEVER for a period of time. And this despite that every evaluation I've gotten, from my annual evaluations to the evaluations for each course I've taught at the parish, have been very positive.
Honey, welcome to life in church leadership!
As I was graduating from college with my BA I was realizing that what I really wanted to study was theology. I already had plans for the next year but I was thinking hard about what came next. A sort of celebrity figure, a well-known figure in the "brotherhood" as some still like to say, came to campus (I went to a denominationally affiliated school) to speak and promote his new book. I had some slight ties with this person and thought it would be interesting to get his perspective on my tentative and still forming plans to study theology. So I approached him and asked what he thought. His answer? "You'll be getting dressed up with no place to go."
It was an honest answer, not meant to be cruel. I did it anyway, but it's still true, almost 7 years later. I'm a woman, and there's no place for me in my own church home. Because I decided to learn more about God.
Praise God for cats. They know when silent comfort is needed.
Think about the scene in Acts 16 where Paul and the guys are tooling around Asia minor in their old VW bus...(Okay, so the text doesn't actually say VW Bus, but this is always how I've visualized it). They try to go to Asia, but the Spirit of God prevents them. They head on over to Bythinia, but the Spirit of Jesus say, "Sorry, not happening." Then they go crash with some friends down in Troas where they get this vision of a man from Macedonia saying, "Come over here and help us!" So they head off to this whole new continent to spread the gospel. When stuff like this happens, you've got to figure God's got something else in the works.
As I indicated earlier, my wife is going through a similar situation right now (though not regarding the *same* position). I'm afraid I can't share that story at present because it's still unfolding (at least, the why and wherefores, and "who knows what" anyway).
Perhaps my own story is relevant. I finished my MDiv a little over 3 years ago. I've been a member of the PCUSA for most of my life, and have been seeking ordination there. I've passed all of my ordination exams save one, which I've taken five times, including an oral exam designed as an alternative method. I've consistently gotten the highest possible score I could get while still failing. It's been very frustrating, and I've spent the past few years in a sort of limbo seeking God's will in the matter while working a Fuller to keep connected and make ends meet. While I'm convinced that all this has not been a waste of time (I've stayed a part of the community and made valuable connections, not to mention meeting my wife in this intervening time), I'm still very frustrated at the whole thing. I would like to retake the Presbyterian Creeds course in order to "bone up" and take the required exam yet another time, but the only time it's ever offered at Fuller is in August as a two-week intensive. Besides my job making this a less-than-viable situation (the thought of forfeiting two-weeks of my hard-earned vacation time to take this class pains me greatly), I'm convinced that two-week intensives are simply not a way that I learn well. So I'm still searching....
There is a healing, a catharsis, through this sharing of our pain (not unlike the sex stories earlier). I am learning about the importance of being a receptacle for pain and disappointment from others who've been hurt - particularly that deeply painful hurt caused by other Christians - our brothers and sisters, the Body of Christ.
I told J last night that I wanted to go back to the real world. Those people loved me! (hmmm.what does that say about me?!)
I'm here - keep sharing. It helps.
Oh, I also learned that the people who got the positions are pretty much all great friends of mine. I am so happy for them. I am so sad that I don't get to work with them (and I've worked already with many of them and love them).
I left my church (So.Bapt.) many years ago, and have been content on my own for the most part. But then I never had a ministerial calling. These stories are very touching, and make me remember the truly honest and committed people (sadly few) I did know when I was there. I am sorry for your struggles.
When I think of the future of the churches that continue to push away the talents of men and women who don't meet a rigid template, while attendance declines, I have to wonder what will still be around in 100 years. The old ways are dying very hard. In my less cynical moments, I have hope that people like yourselves will be the beginning of new churches that can be relevant again. And then perhaps people like me might find something we need there again.
All the best to all of you.
Sister "Fem"--A rather sad story indeed. And they let you get how far into the program?
Have you ever thought that it might be time to begin attending a Unitarian Universalist church--you and your M.Div. are still valued there. Check it out at:
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