The last three or four weeks have been a beast preaching. I found out too late that the third lectionary year is a THING among preachers. I probably wouldn’t have skipped it anyway. I’m stubborn like that. Last week or maybe the week before I spent time on the parable about Lazarus, and Hades, which is tricky for a liberal preacher who is foggy at best about hell to a congregation that is pretty comfortable with the idea. I think it worked out okay. It usually does. At least that is what my very kind congregation tells me.
But I missed a sub point that day. I meant to talk about death, about the reminders of death and how we wouldn’t always have always and tomorrow. How we forget that, even in the midst of daily reminders. I forgot to talk about how true that phrase we had sung moments before was so stinking true “prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” I forgot to talk about how I don’t always love the things that Paul says, but dang it, that bit about wanting to do the things I do not do and doing the things I don’t resonates more days than it doesn’t. Being a human is hard. Telling the truth about it is harder.
Am I the only one struggling with this? I wonder that on the big things like God’s calling on my life, and little things like how the heck do I feed these children every single day? I see that cute sign in your instagram “Not all who wander are lost” and have to admit that some of us just might be. It is me. I am some of us. Being a human is just so hard, at least it is for me. I suspect I am not the only one.
I got some disappointing news on Thursday, I was deferred at the district level for commissioning. My paperwork was not as good as it needed to be. They want me to come back next year. They think I am called. They affirmed my gifts. This part is still hard. It makes everything less clear. I thought I knew the path toward ministry, I think this is probably a minor blip. A lot of the people I know say, yes I was deferred, they shrug, they got through next year. I am sure that will be me in a few years. Right now it stings. Right now it feels confusing and unclear.
I have left this post up for three days now. Hoping I can wrap it up neatly, put a little bow on it. I don’t have that. I just have this: If you are feeling parched, like you are alone out here wandering, wondering on the big questions, and also the daily minutia, you are not. I am here too. I believe God is out here with us. I can hold that today for both of us.
Thank you Abby for affirming my feelings. I am unmoored from the career which anchored me for 32 years and have struggled mightily to find comfort in knowing mine was a job well done and it is time now to move on. But I’ve had to work at it. I have definitely felt lost. I will be sworn onto a 4-year seat on Mountain Park’s City Council in January. I don’t know whether I’ll find the deep satisfaction in it that I enjoyed as a teacher. I hope I do. The wilderness yawns before me. My life goes on, however.
I’m sorry that your process got stalled, that they didn’t like your paperwork — or whatever that even means. Some of these things frustrate to no end and make little sense. I’ll be thinking of you as you wander, as you stay true to the calling that you received despite those who have the power to withhold. May you find the strength to shrug — and say, “I work for a power that is higher than all the other powers that be.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about rejection lately, as no one wanted my non-fiction book proposal, and I feel like I lost a year of writing — a year of hard work, when I could have been doing something else, when I could have been writing the book I was writing before the non-fiction book proposal was requested. I stopped in order to attend that damn book, the book no one actually wanted. Was it all a waste of time?
All that to say, that lost year matters in the long scheme of things. Because I understand myself better. Because I see how easily tempted I am by the lure of affirmation and approval. How quickly I changed courses because someone promised me a book deal. I needed to know this about myself. I needed God to show it to me, and to wrestle with my own murky heart in the midst of it.
At the end of this year, maybe there will be things you needed to know that you didn’t know before — and maybe it will inform you in ways that only God could even have known about. Or maybe not.
No matter what, I think of you and I’m sorry it’s been hard. Peace and love to you.