Monday, May 28, 2012

Irrevocable Call

"For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29)



The summer of 2006 was spent in high anticipation, with the hope that I would receive a new call. I interviewed for, what I thought, was the perfect position. I was one of two finalists and really wanted the position.

So it was terribly distressing to me to not be the one called. In God's good grace, and some six years of hindsight, I can say with all confidence that I would have hated the job. That it would have felt confining and stifling, and that my gifts would not have been enabled to flourish.

How very hard it was to trust the Spirit when doors were slammed in my face and I feared that the flaw was in me, (surely I did something wrong in the interview process?) rather than, perhaps, the idea that God had my back.

In my despair, that hot summer of 2006, I found myself searching for "what next?" The parish I was serving, a community I had grown to love deeply, was nonetheless feeling like shackles around my heart. The community was built upon very conservative principles, taught by a priest who had been in place for 29 years, who had very strong feelings about gays and lesbians (Love the sinner, hate the sin - OMG!). The priest was beloved by many. He had a cult following who adored his wife and her ministry of "channeling Jesus" (my words). She believed Jesus spoke to her and gave her messages for specific people and for people in general.

It was hard to follow a ministry like that one. Especially because I have a far more expansive understanding of God's nature: God loves everyone, equally. And, it didn't help that people still went to the former rector and his wife for "words from Jesus." (As if Jesus didn't speak to me, or to any of us, but only to this woman).

That summer I read an article in the Christian Century magazine about an Internet based clergy women's group called The RevGals (RevGalBlogPals). I literally put the magazine down and started this blog.

It was a challenge at first to learn how to manage the "code," to set it up and create links and so forth. But more curious to me was creating a title for the blog. There are many wonderful, creative titles for blogs!
I choose "Seeking Authentic Voice" because I felt as if that was what I was doing in life. Seeking ways in which I could explore my authentic voice because the context in which my voice was primarily expressed was not a place in which I could be truly authentic. It was a place in which every word was carefully spoken, written, expressed. Careful to express a sense of hospitality and love, rather than endorse the narrowness of a tiny God who had strict rules about who could belong to our community.

Seeking Authentic Voice became the place for me to explore words and ideas, hopes and dreams. I was for a time anonymous,  using the pseudonym, "mompriest." (Because I was a mom of adolescent kids and a parish priest in the Episcopal Church - and yes we are called priests). Eventually I switched to using my real name - "Terri" - which seemed to be yet another step in claiming authenticity.

I know I am not a "writer,"  in the "professional" way. I don't think too long and hard about sentence structure - I was bored stiff by technical writing class. My writing is intuitive. It's not exactly how I speak, but it is reflective of how I think. I don't have aspirations to write a book or craft deeply moving essays.

However, it is always my hope that what I write resonates with others.

This blog is more like a public journal. I no longer write much about my personal life. Rather I tend to reflect on that which concerns me in my spiritual life - prayer, faith, religion, spirituality.

In a certain way this blog has become a place for my prayer life. I tend to write in the morning, usually with a comment on a book I am reading (such as Chittister's "Called to Question.") or a poem or prayer. I post my Sunday morning sermons because they are often the fruit of my wrestling with scripture - always a good thing to do I think - wrestle with scripture.Sometimes I post photos. Often I play the RevGals Friday Five.

I no longer feel like I am seeking an authentic voice. I feel like God has landed me in a place where I am able to be fully authentic (thank you God, and the good people who called me here). I recognize what an amazing gift this is, following many years of navigating very rough terrain. True, the journey for authenticity never really ends. But at least now even the journey feels authentic. In these six years I have come to understand more fully the idea that the "gifts and calling of God are irrevocable." Irrevocable because, regardless of where we turn on the journey, what decisions we make or which are made for us, God journeys with, God has our backs.

The authenticity of our calling is to trust that our strengths are gifts for ministry regardless of how we live out those strengths. Each of us has a vocation, whether ordained or not, which can be lived out in an office, the home, a religious institution, or some other way.

All of this is to say, I'm not sure how long I will keep this blog. People rarely comment anymore. Which I know is part of the blog culture. But without people to dialogue with I wonder about my desire to write here. It is beginning to feel too much like a monologue, and I could do that in other ways. So, we'll see, I may decide this summer, after six years, that it's time to move on. Every journey, every call, has twists and turns and new directions....


16 comments:

Gaye said...

I for one would really miss your blog and your sharing of your faith. I pray for you as you find your way forward.

Terri said...

IF I should decide to close this blog, I would still find a way to stay connected to you. The friendship we have developed over the years of blogging is valuable to me. I would not want to lose that.

Sherry Peyton said...

Oh to trust in the Spirit, so hard to do when we have our heart set on a particular outcome. I have faced that so many times, yet you are right, in the end, the road not taken was the wrong one! I for one would miss your blogging. I do understand, since I find my blog is stagnant a lot, it doesn't grow in popularity it seems, and I feel some folks comment out of loyalty. But on the other hand, I have a lot of folks tell me that they read it, but are not the talkative types, and so I trust that my words are reaching an audience that appreciates it, even when they don't speak so much. You must assume the same Terri. I find that you hit the right note for me more than you might realize. You give me tools often to use in making the decision I am struggling with. Thanks so much. And I hope you continue.

Purple said...

Thanks for writing this. I'm in that same camp of not wanting to be a writer and/or have a published book.

I blog less than I used to...partly because I spend all day with words.

Simply Jan said...

Terri, every individual has to make the call about what is best for her, but I do hope you will continue. It is frustrating that the conversational nature of blogging has changed. I miss that a lot, too. But I still think that blogs are a great way for your voice to be heard. Just because people aren't commenting like they used to doesn't necessarily mean they aren't reading. Follow your heart, but know that you are heard here!

Terri said...

Sherry - indeed, hindsight 20/20. It does seem that you manage a reasonable conversation on your blog. Thank you for your thoughts.

Purple, you may blog less, but I do enjoy your blog.

Jan, I feel like I have known you forever, although we've only talked on blogs.

thank you for your comments.

Katherine E. said...

Let me add my voice to those who would very much miss your blogging, Terri. I have followed your journey, at least parts of it (given the intermittent nature of my own blogging), with an eagerness notable for two people who have never met!! Something about your honesty (we are both seeking authenticity, for sure), the same vocation and basic theology, your intelligence, and your outlook on life -- all have given me a sense of connection with you that I'd hate to lose.
Katherine

Jan said...

Terri, I would really miss your blogging. Like you and Simply Jan, I notice that blogging conversations rarely exist anymore. Few comment at my blog, except for you. I have not been commenting here too often, because I don't seem to have many words anymore. I appreciate your sharing, your wisdom, and you. I would hate to lose this connection.

Mary Beth said...

Thanks be to God for your voice

Terri said...

Katherine, I have really appreciated your return to blogging, and that we have come to know one another in this realm.

Jan, I do get that - not having words. I struggle with that often. Or, like Purple - a head full of too many words!

Terri said...

Thanks, Mary Beth.

Lisa :-] said...

Blogging has changed. I have been at it since 2003, have "closed" my blog three or four times in those 8 1/2 years...have lamented the loss of the conversational nature of blogging. But I am a writer; at least, I fancy myself one. So though I have tried to give up blogging several times along, I find I just...can't. I hope you don't disappear from here, Terri. I enjoy reading your posts, appreciate your take on things of the Spirit. I would miss you if you stop writing. But you must do what feels right for you.

Martha Spong said...

I'm one of the guilty parties. I read on my iPhone and don't always comment. I've appreciated your spiritual honesty ever since the fall of 2006 and am grateful blogging brought us into the same circle.

Terri said...

Martha, no doubt commenting from an iPhone is challenging! And you know how significant your support was in the early days of bloggin, no doubt I would not be here today if you had not stopped by to comment and assist with questions about "code" and "linking" and "search"...

Terri said...

Lisa, I thought I replied here....but perhaps it was on your blog, or actually, I responded on the post from today...lol...I did reply...

Wendy said...

Me too. Your support of my late-to-the-party blog in large part kept me going. If you decide to close, I'll miss what you have to say here (I've really been appreciating these Chittister posts and you introduced me to Mary Oliver), but I'll see you around the webs (and when I make that Midwest trip, I'll be calling).

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