At the morning worship on Saturday at Exploration 2013, a discernment event for young adults considering ordained ministry, we heard from Rev. Dr. Beth La Rocca-Pitts. She spoke about how her journey from Catholicism to Methodism was heavy impacted by how the church gave theological meaning to her developmentally-disabled sibling, many gay friends, and ultimately her sense of her self. (edit: here’s some expansion on that sentence here)
The quote above is a powerful one: “Only the life I have been called to would suffice for me.”
I am on many private Facebook or online groups with clergy who have safe spaces to lament about ministry, find support and accountability, and ultimately serve as the water-cooler to help people with the life they’ve been handed or made themselves. The stories are incredible: stories of personal failings, stories of dark nights of the soul, stories of ridiculous parishioners, stories of ridiculous superintendents, and stories of those moments that make it ALL worth it.
All that is to say that in none of those stories is the presence of absolute certainty: that the call is perfect, that the life is for them, that they have everything figured out. And that clergy are just as uncertain about their role as any other profession–the only difference is the well from which we drink.
So I cannot write today in response to the question “What’s your next step?” to find certainty in your call. I don’t think you’ll find certainty–not often, anyway. But if your call survives and empowers and makes all the difficult situations you find yourself in worth it…then you might find the call there, tested by fire.
My hope for these participants is that they wrestle with uncertainty (it was my theme for Explo2011 by the way) and that their next step is to vision, bring together people who know you and whose opinion you trust, and see what directions make you tick. That your next step after Exploration is…more exploring! But doing so in an intentional way that, through prayer and the Holy Spirit, find ways to see what might be ahead. And even if the details haven’t all been worked out, that you take the plunge and see where you land.
Blessings on your journey, and keep up with Exploration on the #Explo13 hashtag.