Today I met a woman at church that had a boy going into eighth grade this year. I found that out when I told her I’d applied for the youth director job. She told me about him at length, about how he was high energy, ADHD, and a great kid. I said, “can I tell you something? I am high energy, ADD, and a great kid, too. I know the struggle.” She looked at me with palpable relief. I told her that even if I didn’t get a job, to call me if she ever needed a babysitter. But this was after a long conversation in which she told me that she was the chair of the youth education committee last year. I got some info on how things work, and some of the personality types involved. It wasn’t anything negative, just general knowledge as I go in front of the search committee on Thursday. I didn’t really want dirt, just to be prepared. I asked some pointed questions, and she answered them thoughtfully. I could tell by the look in her eyes that she believed in me, and it meant more to me than gold.
She said that the church needed someone who could work with youth, work with adults, and not have to pay them a whole hell of a lot… and how by the grace of God could the church do that? I said, “well, if I have my way, you’ve just found someone.” She laughed and I told her that I was a writer- that I wanted to live simply so that I could afford to be a writer and go to school and prepare for what I know is coming in the future. It was the best 15 minutes of my week.
I am starting to walk with a purpose. I remember an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show where a black woman asked Oprah what to do with her son… how to keep him in school, how to keep him on the right track. Oprah said, “you tell him that plenty of people have died to give him the right he has now to get that education, that the crown has been placed upon his head, and all he has to do is stand up.” It was a mic drop moment. The entire crowd was silent.
It is the feeling I have right now. I have watched ministry in action. I have acted as a lay pastor. I have worked with youth since I was a young adult, and young children since I was nine or 10. There is nothing that this job could throw at me that I wouldn’t have the ability to handle, because I have seen so much. Seeing is everything. And then, when I moved to Portland, I was promoted from seeing to doing. If seeing is everything, then the vision will flow from thought into action.
The crown has been placed upon my head, and all I have to do is stand up. Many people have fought for the right I want now, which is ordination as a woman and as a lesbian, two separate issues. There are still some Christian denominations in which my sexual orientation wouldn’t be a thing because they wouldn’t ordain a woman, anyway. Some people are not ready to hear the words of God working through a woman’s mouth. In the immortal words of Jesus, “fuck that shit.”
Yes, that was a joke.
But not really. Because in one of my sermons at Bridgeport, entitled Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There, I talked about how Jesus included Mary of Bethany with his other disciples, saying that she would learn more by sitting and listening than she would back in the kitchen.
Jesus was a feminist, at least in that instance. I cannot begin to think what Jesus thinks about anything, but at the same time, I do not believe it is within him to bar women from bringing his words to life. I don’t think it is within him to bar anyone from preaching who is willing to give their lives to the God that sustains them… and in a world that is becoming more and more secular, why do the words of God matter, anyway?
God is big enough that God doesn’t require worship. What happens in worship is that it changes you. If you believe that there is a higher power, whatever that higher power might be (God, running, peanut butter, whatever), your ego is not the biggest thing in the room. You do the thing you think you cannot do…. Submit. You start asking for help, for discernment, for discipline.
All of these things are hard for me, because I am so proud. It’s the sin for which I atone the most often, because I think I know what’s up, and I clearly do not. Pride comes before a fall, always, but in every case, I feel like there’s a safety net under me. I cannot get low enough that the love of God leaves, because God is inside me and all around me, a safety blanket and a piece of my heart all at once.
These past two years have proved it to me. Last night I prayed that I knew everything would be ok, regardless of how things turned out with the people I’d burned. I have done everything I can to say I am sorry, and now it is time to focus on other things, because I need to make room. I can rest in the fact that I have a piece of Argo that no one else does. I have a piece of Dana that no one else does. I have a piece of God that no one else does.
And through this rest, I am preparing for more… for bigger things than I ever thought possible only through the grace of God that came from surrender. I did the thing I thought I could not do. I submitted. I learned. I prayed. I cried. I screamed and yelled and beat the fence until my knuckles bled because I was in a prison of my own making and didn’t know how to get out.
Turns out, it was pretty easy. I got down on my knees, and stayed still. And while I was still, the world moved. I arose into a different reality… the one that gave me the confidence to say in terms of ordination and ministry “I got this.”