I've been very quiet not only the blogosphere but in my real world as well. In September I met with the district board of ordained ministry in order to move on to the next step in the ordination process. For a myriad of reasons I was not approved to meet with the conference board of ordained ministry. Yes, this was hurtful and irritating but something very good has come out of it. 2 members of the board came and spoke with me about the reasons why I was not passed on to the conference board--it boiled down to me not presenting my true self. Instead of presenting me, they felt that I was holding back, trying to tame my edges, trying to be that person the board would approve rather than being myself. At first I was offended by this, a little bit anyway. I'm always who I am--I don't try to be anyone else. But sometimes, often times, too often, I do hold back, limit what I say, tame those edges.
Throughout CPE I was reminded that God called ME into ministry--not some shadow of myself. And yet, I haven't been fully living it out.
A few weeks ago, I had a terrible sermon. It started out fine, thankfully it ended fine, but in the middle of it I nearly broke down and gave up. There were things my heart was longing to say but I was afraid to say them. Finally, I spilled some of what was on my heart. No one was offended, no one was mad. It was fine.
It's been bothering me that after nearly 3.5 years I'm still afraid to speak my heart. In some ways I think it's gotten worse rather than better. I feel as though I am liked and even loved by my congregations. However, instead of freeing me, I think I've been pulled deeper into the fear of losing the love and respect I've been given. Of finally saying that one thing that will push everyone away.
There used to be a loud outspoken woman who didn't worry so much about what others said or thought. Then this woman became withdrawn, tenuous in speaking, caring a great deal about what others thought or said, wanting to be liked and loved. But that is not the woman God called to ministry. That is not even the woman I feel comfortable being, that's not who I am in my heart of hearts.
When I went to seminary it felt like coming home to myself after many years of "mom" defining who I was. In some ways it's like I've gotten lost in the shuffle again. Now pastor defines me. Pastor, not preacher, not mom, not wife, not outspoken, funny, and loud.
A good friend of mine recently said, "You have great ideas but the problem is that you don't share them." This much was true in seminary as well, rarely would I speak in class. There were times and there were moments in which I was brave and offensive and those are the moments I am most proud. Those were moments that mattered. Those were the reasons God called me into ministry--not to simply be a pastor--a caretaker of God's beloved. That's one part but I also need to be a leader, a provoker, a preacher.
I'm good at comforting, taking care of others, and even of teaching and explaining, but once upon a time I was called to be a prophet. That time has come again, I can feel God calling me to trust, to go to be who God called me to be fully and completely without reserve.
I can't be silent, quiet, anymore.