Thursday, March 8, 2012

Realizing you're there

I always have goals for my life – a metaphorical there to reach. Usually the details are not too specific, but the overall destination is important, for example finishing college (while not passionate about any particular major), getting a good job (that I really liked, hopefully), getting and staying married, continuing to learn (many things!), becoming a mom, etc. While I do like being in control of things, I’m also not a very disciplined person, so I tend to try to head fearlessly in the direction of my dreams, flying by the seat of my procrastinating pants most of the time.

And I’m always looking to the trailblazers. Growing up, I’d never seen a clergywoman, so I never imagined myself where I am now. But when we moved to Texas and I got a job as a secretary at a United Methodist church, I saw clergywomen doing what God called them to do. And I was inspired! Perhaps you could be a wife, mom, amazing woman and pastor. I was finally able to see what God had intended where before I had been blind to the opportunity.

In the ordination process, a whole new set of destinations were created for me – inquiring, exploring, declared and certified candidate (I know I’m dating myself here), seminary admission, completion, and graduation (preferably with some sort of honors), commissioning and ordination amidst the topsy-turvy process in itself of appointments. So I set out for there.

Sometime in seminary, a friend invited me to the clergywomen’s group that met for lunch. It was so amazing to see all these women, varied and beautiful and wise, who had all made it there. They talked about appointments, General Conference, the history of women in ministry in our conference. They reflected on holding the hands of the dying, the baby being baptized, and the Bible as they preached. They were amazing and I was grateful for these embodied glimpses of there.

So, as I posted earlier, I was recently at another one of these clergywomen’s lunches. I was running a bit late and as I entered, juggling a fast food lunch and drink and purse while fumbling with the door knob, I looked for those familiar wise and gracious faces. I saw them, but it was different – well, there were my friends and compatriots from seminary – and over there was the pastor from the church nearby who organizes local clergy get-togethers – but I was missing the women I had seen when I first came to these lunches. Where were the women who were there?

We went around the tables, introducing ourselves, and as we applauded those who had just been passed for commissioning and ordination, my mind startled in realization. I was there! Could it really be? I took stock – yup, I’m an honest-to-goodness elder in full connection doing hands-on ministry that’s a blessing and a challenge each and every day. Oh, and I’m actually serving on the clergywomen’s leadership team. I’m there. When did that happen?

The night I was ordained, the bishop laid hands on my head, praying the Spirit’s blessing on me, as I knelt in heels and my clergy robe, and then had a stole draped over my shoulders my two of the pastors I admire most as my mother and husband stood nearby. I smiled and talked with my friends afterwards, then drove home to change into my pajamas, wash the dishes, and go to bed, ready for another day of conference business the next day. It’s not as glamorous as what some of my friends did, so maybe I need to be better about celebrating it when I get there. But, honestly, there doesn’t look all that different once you’re there. It’s just another day to love life and live it fully.

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