Three years ago, I embarked on a journey of discovery and wonder, leaving behind security and relative vocational comfort (i.e. a rut) to venture into the unknown streets of Chicago and attempt to create a new faith community in Chicago's South Loop. I had no salary. I had a teeny-tiny bit of institutional support. I had very little - except hope, a vision and some amazing friends and colleagues. As Carrie Newcomer sings, I was "filled with hope and good intentions, bare to the bone."
Just prior to this endeavor, I had come through a season of great loss - a colleague died, a relationship ended, my ministry of 4+ years was cut for budgetary reasons, and my dream job had fallen through because of lack of funding. I remember feeling crushed and overwhelmed by all the pain. But I also remember feeling surprising strong and amazingly free. I often quoted Janis Joplin, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." In that time, it seemed like so much of the pain I was experiencing was caused by the other people's fear. And I became determined not to live my life in fear. "You either lose your fear or spend your life with one foot in the grave, " sings Over the Rhine. I didn't want my life to be dictated by fear, mine or anyone else's. So, I bravely stepped into the unknown, feeling fearless and feeling free. At the same time, I felt more like myself than I had in years. I realized that fearless and free was who I am.
It is no wonder that I met my life partner in this fearless, free, authentic, self-aware season of my life. Craig and I met upon my first arriving in Chicago. And as I was falling in love with the Windy City, I was growing in love with this man. Ultimately, my love for the fella that took me away from the beloved city. And eventually brought us here to Edmonton. (yeah, this Texan gal had been thinking Chicago was cold, and didn't have a clue what the northernmost major city in North America would hold).
Now, I am enjoying Edmonton. It's no Chi, but it's a nice city. And I love the community of friends Craig and I are building up around us. I truly delight in being in a covenanted, lifetime relationship with my Beloved. But right now, vocationally, I am in a funk.
It's more than just a matter of not knowing what I want to be when I grow up (the answer to that is still the same as it has always been - a world famous singer, of course). But the questions nagging at me go deeper: who am I? who (not what) do I want to be? what am I called to do?
I know, without a doubt, that I am called to be in relationship with Craig. As much as I have ever felt "called" to any ministry in the past and even more so, I feel called to this man. But beyond that, who am I? who do I want to be? what am I called to do?
Right now, I am serving as a hospital chaplain. And I like to work, for the most part. And I know that I am good at what I do. But I am not sure I feel up to doing this for much longer. I am not sure if this is the ministry to which I am "called". And see, the real issue here is that I am not sure I feel "called" to "ministry". Period.
But if I am not a minister, who am I? and what am I supposed to do? My training is all in either vocational ministry or vocal performance. I know I have myriad skills that are transferable to other fields. But my only "credentials" are in the ministry racket.
At present, ministry for me feels like a safety net. It's what I know. Its what's comfortable. But I don't like having a safety net. I feel I am my best self when I am fearless and free. I long to soar through the air on the flying trapeze or walk the high wire. But right now, I feel stuck, tangled up in this darn net. Scared to cut myself out. And scared of what that would mean if I did.