Monday, November 24, 2008
SWB: Questions, hoops and being beloved
For the last few years, I've been struggling to find a way of dealing with my lack of "official" ordination in ministry. I've been asked, "Why haven't you gone to seminary?", what seems like a million times, or have heard the statement - "Oh, yes - you're called to serve in ministry here - but are you really called to pastoral ministry?" (looking at me with eyebrow raised and their seminary degree on the wall.)
In response to both of these questions - "YES, I feel called to ministry - otherwise why would I have spent the last 15 years of my life working and serving in it?"
I have many questions of my own that I'm still working through - as far as why the opportunity to attend seminary has yet to work out ( after being really close twice already). I have worked through the difficult comments from extended family and some acquaintances as how it would be possible or theologically permitted for me - a woman- to be called to ministry. I have struggled knowing that God calls whomever he calls, but why is it I seem to run into so many folks that have an issue with me being in that role?
Maybe I'm exaggerating some, or maybe I'm processing all the emotions of knowing that God calls me His, "Beloved" for who I am right here and now, yet I find myself tripping over the negative questions and comments coming from the peanut gallery of those who say, "You can't do this."
I also find myself caught on the "Director" word in my job description until someone calls me 'minister' or 'youth pastor' and I smile an involuntary smile. Then I remember it's not an official description and I feel sad for that, even thought in my heart I know I'm loved and accepted by God, this still makes me sad. I'm tired of being sad about this. I'm tired of the questions. I just want to be serving and living a life that is taking me closer to God and helping others along the way. I like being a shepherd, I can't help it - it is who I am.
So here is where I come to the point of what do I let go of in this situation and what do I hold on to?
To be honest, I'm still working on that.
Last week, I was chatting with a new friend at a youth bowling activity on Sunday afternoon and she began telling me how her husband was working on his associate pastor certification to aid in some of the duties at the church camp he runs. I was so excited as she spoke of how it was distance learning (1. What I've been looking for), much more affordable than traditional seminary (2. What I was hoping for), and would help him be affirmed in his calling in a reachable way - while he remained in active ministry ( 3. What I need).
I'm lightly holding onto the hope I have of pursuing ordained ministry, not that it means I'm moving away - uprooting my family - or putting active ministry on hold for 5 years. This glimmer of reachable bread may help me work through the questions and statements that have been trying to trip me up. Finally.
Soon, I'll begin looking into how this whole process and what hoops I need to go through. They are always there, but hoops are better that the things I've been tripping over. Obstacles hold you back while hoops give you a direction and path to follow. Here's to the path ahead. Pray that I hold fast to the love of God through this next phase in the journey. Hoop by hoop - I'm beloved and I will rest in knowing that.
"Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him,
for he shields them all day long,
and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders." Deut. 33:12