The news I am about to share may shock some of you:
I want to be in ministry.
Right. Big shock, I know. The truth is that ministry is something that has been on my heart for many years, since not too long after I came to know this man named Jesus. I've always had this storytelling gift and this way of just connecting with people in authentic and honest ways. I don't think that's an accident.
And for thirteen years, for different reasons, I have pushed the burden of ministry aside. First it was because I was young in the church and couldn't quote a single Scripture and barely knew the heart of God. I didn't know it at all, in fact, in a tangible way. That would come later. Then it was my tribe, or my denomination. When I finally settled on a church family, I settled into a place called a Church of Christ. It was a place in which women had no measurable gifts to offer except perhaps child care, and I've never really wanted to be a babysitter (Aeris, Damien, and Finn excluded). Not that kids aren't awesome; they are. But I never imagined my service to God would be in the nursery.
Then I went off to college in a new denomination, a college of the Church of God. Our campus minister was a woman, and I started to think that maybe I had a chance at developing something there. In fact, I was encouraged by the faculty in the religious studies department, who were pushing for me to start speaking at chapel and taking roles in various campus ministries. All I had to do was meet with the campus minister first. After one short lunch, she laid it on the line - I was Church of Christ. They were Church of God. I didn't have a place in her pulpit. I was shattered. As it turned out, I wasn't going to be fit for ministry anywhere.
For several years after that, I wrestled with both darkness and physical illness. Against the demons of post-traumatic stress disorder, the defeat of an undiagnosed illness that, while no doctor could name, they still told me it would kill me, and the pressures of just trying to figure out how to function, I gave up thoughts of ministry altogether because, honestly, what did I have to offer? I was so weak and so defeated and so scared...how was I supposed to be hope and love and peace and grace to someone else?
Thankfully, in that mess, I came to an intimate knowledge of my God and this side of it, I'm throwing myself back into storytelling. The author thing has been great, and I can only imagine it will continue to be so. I love getting up every day, diving into my Bible for the nuggets of truth that speak in the unique language that God and I share and wrapping them in story, my story and your story. His story. I am humbled to do what I do.
It hasn't stopped me from looking for a "real" job. You know, one that has what every starving artist sort of craves - stability. For more than five years, I have looked at nearly 10,000 job listings EVERY DAY. I don't even want to do the math. I have applied for hundreds, probably approaching thousands. I have interviewed who knows how many times. I have come close to good jobs. And I have always had an incredible dread and a horrid panic and a terrible fear the closer I've come to good jobs.
Because also in those five years, I have read the job description for every single open chaplain position there's been. Applied to a few that seemed to have low standards, lamented that I don't have the education to qualify. Or the ordination. There's no such thing as ordination in my church, but most of these job listings don't understand that. Still my heart has been aching for just such a job as this. There are some very cool jobs out there, including a few I'm interviewing for right now that would be fantastically awesome...but there is a piece of my heart that won't be happy until I also have ministry.
And that piece of my heart is growing.
Last Friday, God blessed me to stumble upon an internship program to earn the Clinical Pastoral Education credits I need to enter chaplaincy, to qualify for these jobs that for five years have been out of my reach. And you know what? I'm going for it. I finished my application materials this morning and submitted them to the proper contact. Now, I wait...and pray.
In the meantime, can I say? I have had more moments of absolute peace, sheer joy, and complete freedom since Friday. I think that's what happens when you stop being scared and stop being roadblocked and start going after that very thing God has created in you.
I am humbled to have found it.