You’ve Got the Wrong Girl, God

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Rose Shepley | Twitter: @RoseShepley

H_Rose

I’m 30 years old when I realize that God is calling me to ministry. Probably has been since I was a little girl. I laugh and tell God to take His drunken butt home. I say, You’ve got the wrong girl. And I go about my business, wondering along the way why I feel so unfulfilled.

I have a husband and children and family and friends who love me and we enjoy each other’s company. I like my job most of the time. I’m learning to crochet and reading my favorite book series. We’re traveling and having a blast.

So why do I feel like I have so much to figure out?

Now I’m 32 and here comes God again, and this time he’s smiling and winking and being all smooth and charming and telling me, This will be fun. He says I should just go ahead and accept this calling because He’s not giving up. He has an abundance of patience, I’m reminded. So I tell my chaplain at work that I’m interested in seminary, and I confess to her that I don’t even feel like myself when I say this out loud. “I’m scared of all of this,” I tell her. But we agree that I’ll do it anyway.

So I ask myself, How are you going to tell your friends you’re becoming a Christian minister?

I watch Practical Magic and I’m struck when Aunt Jet says to Sally, “You can’t practice witchcraft while you look down your nose at it.” And this is my predicament.

I’ve been hurt a few times by organized religion. I’ve been so disgusted by the behaviors of some people claiming to be “Christ-like” that I’ve just walked away from the church all together. I take my values from my grandma and the good people in my life and I make my own way. And now God reassures me that I’m supposed to become a leader in the church. I try bargaining, but He won’t accept me returning to the pews. He wants me on the pulpit.

I agree to accept this calling and to test the waters, I tell my husband. The man is so gracious he doesn’t even bat an eye before he smiles and says, “Awesome.” I tell my best friend and she’s on board too. I slowly begin to tell my family and friends, and I get the expected mix of responses. Most are exceptionally supportive. But, some people just can’t believe it.

Turns out, a lot of these people think I’m Agnostic. Some say they think I am smarter than this. Some think I’m more like them, able to move beyond the needs of organized religion. Some question my allegiance to science and intellect and our shared liberal ideas. Some are just curious to know if I can still say the F-word after I’m ordained.

I quickly learn you can’t practice Christianity while you look down your nose at it.

I begin drinking in all the Gospel I can. I read Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber and I’m certain that she wrote this book solely to assure me of this calling to ministry. So, to make sure that I go through with it, I accept a challenge from the SheLovelys:

I dare myself to submit my application to the Master of Divinity program at seminary.

Now, you need to understand I don’t have an undergraduate degree. I went to college twice and quit both times. Because of this, I have to take the Miller Analogies Test in addition to all the other fun application stuff. My test scores are high and I seem to have potential, but I look like a quitter.

So when the Director of Vocations wants to talk about this during my admissions interview, I kind of freeze up. I know it’s coming. I’m prepared for it. But it’s scary. I hate defending myself, feeling like I’m making excuses. I really don’t like excuses. And I really don’t like talking about my personal family issues with strangers. I know I have to though, so I tell her the truth about everything.

I tell her I quit the first time to move home and take care of my little sister because I’m scared my stepmama is going to set the house on fire while she’s high on crack cocaine. I tell her I quit the second time because this same stepmama is slowly dying an awful ugly death, rotting from the inside out, from smoking crack cocaine. And I tell her that I’m stronger and healthier and wiser. I tell her I have a support system in place and I ask for help. I tell her that I’m scared, but that God is forcing me to do this, and I pray that she and the admissions committee can see whatever it is that God sees when He calls me to walk on the water with Him.

Three weeks later I get an acceptance letter. I cry because I know God is easing me into big things. I cry and I can’t wait to tell everybody I know that I’m going to become a minister. And now, I dare my doubting, bent, angry, misanthropic, sarcastic, know-it-all self to make room for God, and the church, and the dream to become a dangerous woman.

___________________

About Rose:

roseI’m a writer and blogger who advocates for women, children, and all those on the fringes of society; while trying to live my life with purpose, intent, gratitude, genuine kindness, and radical hospitality. I’m navigating through life in Southeastern Pennsylvania with my artist husband and two comedic children. I write about grace, growth, transcendence, and love at pausingforgrace.com.

____________________

Image credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail