People ask me all the time what I miss about church life? Do I miss preaching all the time? Do I miss the committee meetings? Do I miss the hospital visits? Do I miss the cranky people calling me after church on Sunday afternoon?
I'm not really sure how to answer these questions.
Because yes, I do miss church life.
I miss putting on a robe on Sunday morning with the wind of courage behind me, filled with something to say to eager listeners.
I miss people calling me to say "I just needed to talk to my pastor."
I miss the privilege of walking an adult through a baptismal process and seeing the light come to their eyes just before the water touches them.
I miss Sunday potlucks-- you know the meal that is best served at a church where you really never know what exactly you are eating . . .
(But, no I don't miss anything with the description "cranky" in it. And no, I most certainly don't miss long committee meetings).
However, all this to say, as much as I miss these things, I know I'm in the right place. I know this season of life as a non-traditional work-er, minister type in the world is where I am to learn.
Sometimes, in life, I believe, we are asked to give up what is most comfortable, what we most know, or even what makes the most sense to us and our educated friends around us. We are asked by God to seek out the new.
I was having a conversation with a colleague a couple of weeks ago. It was a colleague I'd worked with in denominational life connected to my most recent pastorate, a colleague I hadn't seen in six months. It was fun to see her happy face again.
Yet, personally, it was a sad day for me when we ran into each other. A day when I was thinking a lot about what I had lost and how much I missed about my former life. But this colleague surprised me with the first words coming out of her mouth were, "Girl, you are looking so good!"
How could she say that I wondered? I had just been crying in fact.
She went on to explain was that my posture seemed more relaxed, more at ease, that their was light in my eyes she hadn't seen in me when I was going about the business of keeping a particular church in good order. I thought, well, now that's interesting . . .
This colleague then asked me more about my future plans and what came out of my mouth was, "I feel called to create something that is yet to exist."
Well, then. That was news to even my own ears. Called to create something that doesn't exist . . .
Upon further reflection of this moment, I realized maybe this was why she said I was looking well. As much as I do miss the familiar or even the simple joy of putting on a robe and saying, "Thanks be to God" every Sunday-- there's something about this season of re-evaluating, of re-grouping, of renaming that suits my soul quite well.
I am more myself. I am more at ease. There's light pointing me in new directions I might have been scared to death of years ago, but now I'm here. There's no turning back now.
It doesn't mean the path to get to this unknown place is easy though. It might suit my soul. But, my body doesn't like it very much at all.
My days are often filled with self-doubt, loneliness and lots of prayers of "Why can't I be like everyone else?"
I want to work normal hours. I want my work to be respected and acknowledged-- even paid for from time to time. I want to not feel so alone as I usually do between the hours of 8-6 pm every day.
But in the meantime, I try to see the progress I'm making along this path of what I know not of, and what does not exist yet.
I eagerly look forward to any opportunities to connect with other like-minded thinkers and doers-- even if I have to travel to another state to find them.
I eagerly look forward to moments when my ministerial identity gets to be expressed in an life-giving and affirming way (such is hard to come by in Oklahoma, but that's another story for another day).
I eagerly look forward to the day-- whenever that may be-- when my eyes get to see the dreams come to pass that my heart has had a long-standing commitment to.
And on that day, I'm sure I'll probably say that the journey, no matter how long or hard it has been was worth it.
But until then, all I can say is this kind of creative work is harder than I could have ever imagined.