Moving Forward

Last week I was visiting a friend (who happens to be a spiritual director) and we were just catching up on what’s going on with life. I was telling her how much I’m enjoying the space in my life right now. She was super happy for me and encouraged my process. Then she asked me: Now that you have this space, what do you want to move toward instead of reacting to other people’s requests? Damn.

So far, as I’ve progressed through summer and now into September, I’ve definitely moved through some phases. At the beginning of summer, I was just catching up on rest. Once I felt like I was sufficiently recovered I started to see opportunities to spend my free time actually doing stuff. Now I’m starting to feel like I’m leveled out and am ready to start thinking about moving forward.

A few things about me to give some background to this journey:

1. My name is Tiffany and I’m a change-aholic. I know that it’s quite common to be uncomfortable with change, but I find I am much more uncomfortable with stasis. I have to guard against change for the sake of change and really discipline myself to make changes that matter or make sense.

2. I say “yes” a lot. This is not because I feel like I can’t say no, but because I like to do lots of things. See #1.

3. I’m quite practiced at responding to requests. My job is one of almost entirely reacting to crises. I have a natural customer-service orientation about me and an ability to handle myself well under stress.

When my friend asked me that question, the trajectory of my journey thus far came into specific relief, mostly because it’s not a trajectory at all, but rather a series of zig-zagging lines. This is not to say I haven’t done good things and it is entirely possible that my life is intended to be that. I need to spend this time listening for what direction God wants me to go. If that’s another sideways journey instead of a longer, forward one, that’s totally fine – I just need to be sure that it’s coming from God and not my innate desire to do something different and to handle a new crisis.

In church ministry life, we use the language of “calling” a lot. It’s “What Color is Your Parachute” with a little help from a Higher Power. It’s bigger than occupation. It’s what your life speaks, both to you and to the world. Specifically, it’s an identity into which you were born and takes a lifetime to discover. I was called to be a pastor under somewhat odd circumstances. I’ve not written out the whole story, but I need to so as not to forget. Suffice it to say, I know I am a pastor. That’s a risky thing it identify as, given the frequency of my non-pastoral behavior. Part of my journey now is living out that call outside the context of a local church.  Am I still this called person if I don’t engage in anything traditionally associated with that calling? Of course the answer is yes, and in many cases, even more so.

I’m on a temporary break. I’ll go back. I know that because I truly do love the church. It’s my home. There is so much about it that I was born to do. I’ve had some friends cautiously ask me, “But…you’re going back eventually…right…?” My response usually is, “As much as I’d like to help you feel better about my choice, I’m going to have to go with what God says on that one and as soon as I hear something, I’ll let you know.”

Another part of this season is to take a sabbath from giving and doing some receiving. This is a consistent message I’ve gotten from God and it’s my weakest link. I am much more comfortable serving than being served, unless I’m paying someone to be served. To be served and nurtured is to give up a lot of control and we know I hate that.

I’ll write out the ministry path/call story soon. You’re welcome.

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