Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Highest Calling

"Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." ~Catherine of Siena

Once upon a time, I interviewed for ministry jobs. That's no big deal really. I have a Masters of Divinity degree. And no task ever feels so right as when I am standing in front of a congregation and preaching. I was a youth minister for a summer--just before I got pregnant with my last baby. But that didn't fit quite right.

When people came up to me after I preached a few weeks ago and told me that they enjoyed it, my mouth said thank you but my heart was saying that I was born to do this.

I finished divinity school 14 years ago. I was four months pregnant with my first child when I walked across the stage. It seemed pointless to look for a ministry job when I had a baby on the way. But I did send out a lot of resumes then and in the years that followed. I had a few interviews, never for a pastor position--still waiting on that interview, my own deep calling. But the interviews always ended up with someone telling me that I shouldn't be looking for ministry work. My children were too young; I should be home with them.

Those words still cut me today, and my youngest is now 8. When they were first said to me, they seemed so benign, yet they "tasted" wrong in my mind and in my heart. It took me a long time to realize that not living up to my highest calling was setting a bad example for my sons. So many Christians believe that the highest calling of a woman is to be a wife and mother. The progressive churches I interviewed with--ones that are not on the conservative end of baptist life--still believed that myth: that a woman's highest calling was to be a wife and mother. Why else would they write me off so quick.

However, I am here to say: my highest calling is so. much. more.

Seasons come and go in a woman's life--indeed in anyone's life, male or female. Maybe it was too difficult for a church to see past my babies. Maybe they thought the logistics of running a household would be too much for me (though marriage is a team, right?). Maybe they didn't think of what they were saying at all--at least in a theological sense. But those words have stayed in my mind, replayed every so often, making me feel less than adequate--even though my youngest is 8 now.

So...I reject the attempt to put me in a theological box. I am called to preach the gospel. I am called to be prophetic and thoughtful, to bring theological meaning into this world gone mad. Even if I don't have a church to preach in, I will still prepare as if I do. I will learn even more about my craft; I will read and listen and think.

To the churches that wrote me off, you were wrong.

To the world that says that I should settle, you lose.

To Christians that say motherhood is my highest calling, you don't know my God.

What prompted this post? Jenny Rae Armstrong posted a quote to a Facebook Group I belong to: Biblical Christian Egalitarians. The quote says:

Since last Friday when it was posted, I have been praying about my life and how to be a bit more courageous with my calling. Today, I post this because it is time to shatter non-biblical notions of what I am called to be. I will not bow down to the idols anymore.