I doubt that Joy has any memory of the conversation – which likely is a sign of a good campus minister. I was in no shape or form easy to work with, my guess. Obstinate. Opinionated. Unwilling to believe that God would “call” – rhetoric that I struggled with so often (truth be told, I still do, and even more so now, as my roommate would attest).
She kept trying to get me to apply for a job with her organization – and I kept laughing in her face. My guess is that she rolled her eyes (inside her head of course, not visible to me). I never told her that when I was moving to college, in the car on the drive on I-79 with my mother, I said, “I’m not going into medicine, and I’m not going into public relations. I think God is calling me to ministry.” The unspoken words were “and I really don’t like this thought.” When my mother, STUNNED, heard me say it, she looked at me and said, “doing?”
The irony bleeds here – I had no idea what that meant. I had had not even one day of a collegiate experience, and yet I was confident I would be in college ministry. Flash forward 3 years, and I’m telling my boyfriend that I refuse to go into pastoral ministry, it’s too frustrating an idea, and I’m going to work in public relations. Hearty laughter.
5 months later, I’m in a conversation with one of my best friends and I say, “you know how I hate youth ministry? Uh, I think that’s what I’m going to end up doing.” She said, “duh.”
I have this unfortunate and obnoxious habit of having to bite my tongue often with God. Perhaps it’s because God likes slapping me in the face. Or perhaps, whatever this concept of discernment is I have a habit of hating. Or not trusting – at all. (Read: both).
When convinced that I was doing youth ministry for the rest of my adult life, teaching perhaps, or in the very least, speaking and writing, I had determined that in no way, shape or form would I ever consider doing college ministry again.
Those who know me well will feverishly nod their heads up and down when I make my next statement: the last year of my life has been extremely difficult. I could go on with all the problems/challenges/heartaches/stressors. My plans appear somewhat shattered. I’ve spoken to few of the people who could actually speak into my troubles, in part because of my fear of being told I’m not intelligent, able or desirable enough to do what I’ve dreamt of for six-plus years. Certainly some of my friends of whom I’ve revealed these dreams are encouraging – but truth be told, I don’t know how much I trust the encouragers, though I certainly affirm the non-words of the voiceless or non-confirmands.
During my internship, one of our main goals surrounded discernment. Again, a concept I have little trust in anymore. I tried to hang tough and often would have preferred to say the “right” answer to my actual thoughts: that this perpetual game of BS should end. But I didn’t and found myself at the end of my internship so broken, hopeless and confused, that researching management positions or degrees in educational or organization leadership were more appealing than “ministry” jobs. Perpetual degrees in a variety of fields would probably surmize my life, I’d determined.
In the last 4 months, I’d given up on every dream, hope or promise I thought were mutual of mine and God’s – this “call” was not shared, but a futile hope for a foolish woman.
I can’t explain precisely when, but I’ve started to ask questions of myself recently – I’m sure some have been so deeply rooted that I’m not fully conscious of all the questions, but 3 weeks ago I asked a friend if he would discuss w/ me a ministry. I’ve been in a world of trying to figure out if I can at least narrow down my life to perhaps a profession, a region or an environment. Even to eliminate would be helpful.
I find myself brought back to Dr. Na’s office my sr. year of college, crying that, I didn’t want to do pastoral ministry, I could do any number of jobs and doing them with excellence and commendation. And his response, “uh huh. but what is God calling you to do.” I was mad then. And still today, maybe. About 8 hours ago even, I uttered that I wanted a mulligan. I wanted to redo financial, professional, and academic decisions – not all major, but enough to make this life a bit different than it sits presently.
And like many of those rather extremely inopportunely timed “ah-ha” moments that have been presented in my life in the last 27 years, this critic may have had one of my hoped-for, yet un-trusting moments this early morning. I can’t get into it right now – I need much more processing, conversations, questions, and prayer. I know I am a poor representative of what “prayer” even looks like in a person’s life – a seminarian, no less. But if you happen to have made it all the way through this Jerry Maguire-like manifesto mission statement, feel free to throw a prayer or two there for me, eh?
musical seats – Cabin