I have purposefully not blogged in a while (sorry about that). The things weighing on my mind were things I could not put in written form . . . yet. Now I can. And, I find myself sitting here trying to figure out where to start. Perhaps I should just start with a statement . . . “Okay, God. I hear you!”
For a long while I’ve felt uneasy. It’s the kind of “uneasy” one feels when they begin to look around and realize that maybe this isn’t where they should be – that maybe there is something else. Once I felt this I began intensive prayer to discern if this was God tugging at me, pulling at me. Every time I felt it – I prayed it – something would occur and I would brush the “uneasy” off and assume it was my imagination or, rather, it was a “Monica” thing and not a “God” thing. Then, as the old adage goes, God “screamed” instead of “whispered” and I couldn’t help but hear.
Earlier this year I had lunch with a colleague. She served a church just north of the one I currently serve and she shared with me a position opening up there that she felt would be right up my ally. My first reaction was excitement. My second was skeptical. My third was denial that this was a sign. So, I thanked her for the information and put it out of my mind . . . or tried to anyway. It took two weeks of internal debate before I finally submitted my resume. And, as I hit “send” I still had doubts and anxiety about this – I mean what was I doing? I LOVE my church! I’ve been here for over fourteen years! Why would I want to leave this comfortable, amazing job? And, yet, I hit “send” anyway.
I didn’t hear back from this church for over a month. I had assumed they weren’t interested so, there it was. God had answered and I was to stay here and bloom where I’m planted . . . right? Um, no. Just when I had almost forgotten about the “Send” button months ago my phone rang inviting me to interview for this position. Of course I said “yes” and showed up several days later to a room of smiling, kind people looking very excited to meet me. Their first comment to me? “Monica, we would like to congratulate you. We had over 50 applicants and we are only interviewing 6 . . . and you’re one of the 6.” Hmmm . . . ooookkkkkaaaayyyyy. “Thank you,” I said. This was the beginning of something that felt “right.” I can’t put my finger on it. perhaps it was the connection I felt with the pastor. Perhaps it was the words God put on my tongue during this process. Maybe it was how at ease I felt being so open and honest about me, my life, my ministry. It just felt natural – like I was MEANT to be there.
I went home that night feeling the most at peace I’d felt in a long time. I even shared that with my husband. I was told at the interview that they would make their decision by weeks end – it was Thursday morning when my phone rang again. That morning I had a conference call with some members of Staff Parish where they proceeded to pour compliments on me, affirming my gifts in ministry, and informing me that I was their candidate. As my heart raced, as I smiled in amazement, that “peace” I felt a couple of days earlier kept feeling “right.” I accepted and agreed to meet with their pastor that Monday evening to finalize the details.
My friends, after that it was a blur. In a four-day span I was accepting a job, telling my wonderful pastor here, contacting my current SPRC lead, hearing from the District Superintendent, then waiting for the Bishop to approve the new appointment effective July 1 (which, by the way, he had to do via email from General Conference, and he did it very quickly). It was as though God not only opened the door I’d been seeking, but proceeded to gently kick my tush right into it. I almost heard God say as I flew through the door “Okay, kid, show me what you’re made of! Be challenged, be uncomfortable, grow in ministry . . . all in MY name!” Alrighty, Lord. I hear ya. And, thanks for answering :).
On a side-note, may I just say (and this may be blaspheme) that I envy my United Methodist Elder clergy friends. You see, they get “plunked” down from church to church by the Bishop and they go where they are called – and, in a nutshell, they can “blame” the Bishop when they are moved. In my case, the case of an Ordained Deacon, I CHOOSE to go. This has been hard because choosing to leave a church I love so much, the many friends I’ve made over the past 14 years, the pastor who has been such an amazing mentor to me, was excruciatingly difficult. But, I am ever grateful that God screamed at me loud enough to where I followed instead of stayed where it was “comfortable.” A good friend once asked me, “Why would God want you to be comfortable?” Exactly.