Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Pain of Love

So last night I learned, through FB status updates, that three of my friends from seminary were named Postulants in the Episcopal Church. This is a solid step on the way to ordination. These friends - all women, all from Evangelical backgrounds (as the Fuller degrees attest) - were actually none of them Episcopalian when I met them, and 2 of the 3 had told me they'd never considered the priesthood. They were all, I think, surprised by the insistence of their congregations that they enter the process. And all of them have reached this important milestone together. How fun it must have been for them to be retreating together and be one another's support! And how interesting that it would be three Evangelical women on this road together (all, btw, in the ECUSA, not at splitting churches).

The flip side of this story is that this news, while wonderful, reduced me to sobs, as my own heart broke with the realization that, once again, I was not good enough, I chose the wrong churches or mentors, I fucked up my own process, and etc. on and on. I was already in the process when these women weren't even Episcopalian yet! I wanted nothing more - felt called and gifted to nothing else - and they didn't even realize God would be leading them this way!

But that's kind of the point, isn't it? That God uses the unexpected, the wrong, the vessel of clay? Perhaps I've just been too sure of my calling. It's seemed obvious, but perhaps that's why it's not true.

Yet this morning I opened my email to a message from a friend at my new church, who just read my post about Holy Week and affirmed what I said. She told me I was saying things she needed to hear - her exact words were "I could use a good sermon or two," specifically about sin. So there you go: even if the institution won't recognize me, apparently I can preach to people via this blog. Apparently I can still be a pastor of sorts, albeit a virtual one. It was a needed affirmation. And, it makes me all the more glad that I applied for a position as an online organizer for The Beatitudes Society. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, I should get to the reason that I titled this post as I did. Another thing I found this morning, courtesy of another seminary colleague, was a link to this amazing post: Love is Fucking Stupid. And as I read it and it flipped my mind around a little, and I questioned its motives then saw, at the end, that it was super powerful, I realized that this is how I've been feeling: really fucking stupid.

I have continued to trust all things, bear all things, believe all things, and hope all things, in my wasted, ridiculous, nowhere-going process. So maybe, instead of seeing myself as a dumb naive fool, I should remind myself that this might just be the way I'm supposed to be. Maybe I'm approaching the institution with love, even as I get repeatedly stomped on. And I can vouch for the fact that yeah, it hurts like a bitch. And I have no idea if it will be "worth it" in the end. But it is the only way I know how to go on. The only other option is to give up, get bitter, and abandon the church (and believe me, that was all I wanted to do last night when I learned of my friends' success).

But you know, I probably won't. I'll continue my retreat for a while, and remain in the relative security of shaping just one little life for Christ. But I imagine God will come calling again one of these days, and I know I will answer. I know no other way to be. She is irresistable to me.


Grace thing said...

You certainly preach to me on your blog. I loved your writing about Holy Week among other things. I love your vulnerability in sharing the struggles of your process. You are a gift to me. Thank you. Good luck with the's a great organization!

Hagar's Daughter said...


I'm right there with you: choosing the wrong churches, mentors, timing, something. I know this doesn't make you feel any better.

I don't even want to think about it any more. I am heartbroken.

Keep preaching and writing.