Painful Awkwardness From The Past
I keep meaning to write positivity. LOVE. That's supposed to be the cornerstone of this space and I have an abundance of it to share! So far the love shared has been tough love. But every time the need to write and share with you is thrust upon me, it's something heavier. It is thrust upon me. When God tells me to write it is an overwhelming command. I literally jumped up from the dining room table and ran to my office to get this out. I don't want to write it. Tears keep escaping my eyes as I type each sentence. As hard as this is, I have faith that whatever message is supposed to be shared will come together for you.
A little known fact about me is that I was an ordained priest. Technically, anyway. I was called and ordained to the office in a church we no longer attend. WHY I even need to share this with you is so far beyond me...why God has put this on me today... because I had predetermined a while ago that this is something I would never share. Maybe that's why? Maybe He's reminding me He runs the show. There is great potential for hurt feelings, a fresh round of rumors, and misconception in this. Just as I don't understand why this needs to be said, many others probably won't, either. That brings me up short. How do I write this with appropriate vagueness but enough detail? How do I write this at all?
In my mind, the whole priest thing is a technicality. Like I mentioned above, we no longer attend the church where I would use it in an official capacity. I did not do much with it before I left, either. Ironically, I DO fulfill the role better than ever in the life we are living today. To me that validates the calling itself. Those gifts are within me. I don't tell people about this because when it comes to serving God titles do not impress me. Religious titles can be a turn off. Although they do have their place. I've watched some serve more for themselves than others. This isn't relegated to just our church. It's a risk in religion as a whole. Perhaps in the beginning, accepting my calling was a bit self-serving as well.
My husband and I were both born and raised in this church. We attended in our respective home towns and met each other in college. We were ecstatic to find a life partner who was born and raised in the same faith. As a child I attended service almost every single Sunday, except when I could beg off to be with my non-believing father. Then as a teenager, I went through a Sunday morning rebellion where sleep was preferable. Sorry, Mom. When we first got married, Matt and I attended church semi-regularly. With the birth of our first son, that quickly dwindled for way too many reasons to count. Excuses? Yes. But legitimate ones. Ones that led to us eventually finding another church home for the time being. Please know that walking away from our lifelong church was a really big deal and an emotionally hard thing for us to do. We walked away from our entire faith foundation.
But back to the priest thing. Getting ordained and finally giving a sermon was a long road. It all started when I was newly pregnant with my son. I chose to be ordained well after his birth when I was in the throws of severe postpartum depression exacerbated by routine emotional abuse (NOT by my husband). The pastor was understanding of this. She graciously gave me space to do my thing instead of pressuring me to fill the role as I should have done.
I finally gave my first (and only) sermon when Harper was a baby. It was a dark time in our lives and walking into the sanctuary to speak felt like walking into the lion's den. Instead of having my husband and children there to support me, we chose for them to stay at home for reasons I will not discuss here. Not having my closest support there broke my heart a little bit. Matt hated missing it. But in the end, despite all the personal nonsense, I spoke and got my feet wet. It wasn't anything to write home about. I did something outside the box, including a scripture based guided meditation in the last half. It spoke deeply to a few people. Most were not impressed. As was expected, the response was a mixed bag. I was disappointed by missing the mark.
I stood outside the sanctuary for a scant five minutes after the service concluded to receive those who promptly left the sanctuary. Then I escaped. Quickly. Discreetly. Heck, I fled, praying no one called me back.
I walked out knowing that, unless something huge happened to change our direction, it was likely the last time I would ever set foot in that building. I hoped my little family would never again pull into the parking lot, hold hands, and tearfully pray for God's strength and protection before going inside. I walked out knowing it was a small step in our family's healing.
Why we left the congregation is complicated. It's less related to the congregation itself than other things. We ended up stepping back from the church entirely because we couldn't escape the rumors, curiosity, and knowing looks. We couldn't heal from those things that needed healing if we were constantly confronted with the insanity.
So. Ordained priest. Acknowledged. It's not a headliner or something to attach to my name. This isn't some kind of strange qualifier to make you think I'm an expert (I'm not). It's not something you will ever see me parade around with pride or self-importance. I don't feel at all qualified to call myself a priest or act as one. I do feel qualified to share with and serve you as a human being, woman, wife, daughter, sister, mother...
It's something I prefer to keep under wraps. Outside the church I'm not sure it really means anything anyway. That's okay. In the eyes of God I'm trying to serve as He calls me to serve.
I'm not sure how this came together or if it even makes sense. I probably raised more questions than anything. It feels like a disjointed mess. Know that the church we left has many wonderful people and qualities. If it weren't for extenuating circumstances, we would still be there and likely attending regularly like we do our current church. It was a breath of fresh air when we said goodbye, though. We could breathe. We were finally allowed to be ourselves. We weren't fighting against perception, expectation, and rumor. We were able to shrug off childhood. Walking away meant we could finally figure out what was best for us and our children. There are things we miss, but mostly we are grateful for this feeling of freedom.
Only two people tried to stop us from leaving. To this day that effort means the world. Two people cared enough to hear us in hopes that they could make everything okay. They know who they are. I wish there was a way to fully express how much their care meant, other than to say I will carry it with me always.
Regardless, I don't know how to wrap this up or end it. So....