Calling revisited

There is a moment – a conversation with God – that is in the forefront of my mind these days. It is a formative conversation that took place more than 10 years ago. I am a little perplexed by why it is on my mind so much in the past couple of weeks. But actually, I am more perplexed by my own response – that instead of resistance, I find myself turning to God with the words that Mary spoke – be it unto me as you have said.

I was young. I was almost seventeen. I told my mom about the abuse for the first time as one of my siblings had said something. Up until then I had stayed silent to protect my mom from being hurt and with the idea that if it was happening to me, it wasn’t happening to my siblings. The prospect that I had been unsuccessful in protecting my siblings made me unwilling to sacrifice myself any longer. Those were bitter and painful days.

I remember a moment so clearly. I was sitting on my bed, alone in my room, and I finally had the courage to ask God “Why?” Why had he allowed me to suffer in this way?

I was expecting silence.

But I got an answer.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I felt God was calling me to work in the church, as an Anglican Priest.

Young I might have been, but I was not naive. I had seen what goes on in churches – the power struggles, the hypocrisy, the gossip.

I told God flat out no. I was going to be a doctor. I loved science. I loved people. But work for a church? no thanks – God, you have the wrong girl.

But I couldn’t shake those words. I tried. I poured myself into the sciences. And while I got marks in the high 90s, I suddenly lost all interest. It was meaningless.

I spent the next few months praying and discerning and fearing what my parents might say. I wanted to be sure this was indeed from God before I dealt with their reactions. And then I had the courage. I was met with a stronger response than I had anticipated – “You are following the devil”.

At 17, I knew that an important question was before me – Would I be willing to follow God, even if it meant that I would lose my family?

How strange that 11 1/2 years later, this moment is ever before me. This past term has been incredible formative. I have gone from having a pretty relaxed schedule to an intense schedule with deadlines. And I have met them and been successful. I’ve been asked by many people how do I cope – and the answer is a lot of prayer and a lot of coffee (although, thanks to my body revolting against me, it is usually tea). This term I have learned to cling to my master and to find hope and comfort in him alone. I have seen that I *am* capable. I love psychology and I have done well in all my science classes seeing marks that I have never seen before. I have what it takes to do a PhD in clinical psychology. And God has given me gifts that could be used in a powerful way, I am sure of this.

But I took a course called Foundations of Community Engagement this term that totally messed up my nice little tidy plan. Truth be told I don’t see myself charging people money to care and to set boundaries that I care within a timeframe. And while I absolutely love psychology, I have yet to write a blog post about any of the fascinating things I’ve studied.

I work for a church. And when I day dream, I am thinking about the people I’ve met and the neighbourhood and how I might get more involved. The five hour a week contract is limiting. But the ideas seem not to be limited. I think of the first year university student who faithfully comes out and I chat with every week. I think of the young families that I have been connecting with. I think about the neighbourhood that is crowded with people and ways to reach out to the community.

I love planning services. I love planning liturgy. We are planning a service that the children will be involved in. My creative mind has been all over this. And I wonder – perhaps I could preach?

WHAT? preach?

so I’ve preached 3 times now. I love preaching. I love the process of preparing the sermon, I love public speaking, I love teaching. I’ve been told by a few people that I should preach more often.

I’ve been thinking of volunteer work as I think about preparing a grad school application. I’ve looked at research positions at mental health institutions, thought about a crisis line. But what am I eager to do? to start a Bible study.

I love nothing more than to sit over a cuppa something and talk faith with someone, or to be present in someone’s suffering. This term I made three trips to the ER to be with people and sitting with them felt right. Not just because they were friends and I would gladly be there for them, but more in an existential way – this is where I belonged.

I’d rather read and write about theology than psychology.

I have always felt a call to hospitality. Having Bob and Peter present for my Christmas was the best thing ever.

I have a powerful and beautiful story of God’s work in me, of his unfailing love, his redemption and faithfulness. That story needs to be told again and again.

I started to tell Chris about my recent ponderings. He listened and didn’t add anything until I said “I don’t know if I could submit to the institution of the church”. His response was wise and well said “Well, you’ve already submitted to the institution of education”

My course load is up in the air for next term. I’ve been on waitlists for a bunch of psychology courses. But unless 100 or so students decide not to take the various courses, I don’t have a hope in hell of taking them. So I added a course by a professor that I really like – it’s a theology course. The other day, just for fun, I added another theology course as I need to have a full load. And I got in. And I’m super excited.

all these things and my recent conversations with God have me wondering if there is something to that call that I felt 11 1/2 years ago. And if perhaps, now is the time to follow.

cause if it is, then – I am ready.

 

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  1. Ian Adnams
    December 28, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    You don’t need to submit to the instutional church to serve God’s people if that is your vocation.

  2. Barb
    December 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    When God places a call on your heart, it is useless to try and avoid it. God is persistent. Yes, it is your choice but, as you have already found, it is where your heart is. I speak from experience. Keep listening to what God has to say to you.

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