Answering the Call
Written on December 1, 2018
Electronically Published on December 14, 2018
“I think you should go to seminary.”
I was taken aback, and so pleased. I wanted to stay composed, but a smile crept to my lips and I could not tame it. I found myself smiling, feeling very seen and then, very hesitant.
I’d thought about pursuing spiritual leadership as a career on a few occasions, though entertaining a notion and hearing an honest recommendation from someone I greatly respect are very different things.
Seminary made almost perfect sense.
And then, doubt.
Me: irreverent, sailor-mouthed, purple haired, tattooed, recovering, healing, skeptical, anxious and over-analyzing – a minister?
And then, the shift.
A Unitarian Universalist minister.
Now that made perfect sense
“I’m going to seminary.”
I tried and tested the words a few times over the next few weeks.
They were foreign, though they seemed very solid and right – much like when I first saw Henry’s face. At first, I did not recognize him and could not believe he was mine, though my soul had known his for all of eternity.
So, I kept trying. I kept considering. I wrote a few practice sermons and researched what it would take.
What it all came down to taking was love.
I was reevaluating and unlearning much of what I thought I knew. I stepped out of my comfort zone and radically accepted the love I was being showered with even though I did not believe I deserved it. I decided to follow the advice of a former boss: assume a confidence you may not feel.
So, I kept going. I kept saying and writing the words I am enough and I am loved until I finally believed them.
The church was not the first place where I was told that I am loved unconditionally – but it was the first place where I believed it and knew it to be true.
And if I, with all the privilege that comes with being a white, educated, cisgender, middle class person, can take 25 years to feel unconditionally loved – how must others who have faced hardships much greater than my own feel?
How can I help change that?
How can I embody the love I have been shown and show it to others?
Today is a rainy and miserable first day of December, much like this year has been rainy and miserable in a lot of ways. Even so, I am absolutely overwhelmed with pure love and gratitude for where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going.
This calling is not quite one I can explain. I’d liken it to the way I’ve always known I needed to be a mother and the way I’ve always known that I must keep writing. It is a knowing that has always been present and I have long been comfortable with, though I never had quite the right words to use for it.
It is a calling I’ve been finding myself closer and closer to realizing over the past few years. I never truly wanted to only be a psychologist, a therapist, a nurse, a professional religious educator, or a social worker.
I have always wanted to be an advocate, a counselor, a leader, a public speaker, a writer, a helper, a resource, a change agent, and a part of something much bigger than myself where each and every part serves a vital purpose.
It took 25 years of trial and error to learn that the name for all those things I want to be is minister.
“When the fire of commitment sets our mind and soul ablaze
When our hunger and our passion meet to call us on our way
When we live with deep assurance of the flame that burns within,
Then our promise finds fulfillment and our future can begin.”
The Fire of Commitment by Rev. Jason Shelton