My *probationary* period pre-ordained ministry is supposed to do lots of things: 1) affirm/confirm my call 2) teach me about the church workings 3) shape me for full time ministry 4) prompt me to self-learning and 5) (though I don’t think this is on the official list) disillusion me completely about my own capabilities and the realities of the church. No more naïve ignorance from me! =) Anyway, I am definitely learning a lot. Two of the loudest/strongest/most prevalent lessons this year (appointment year that is, July-June) have been 1) HUMILITY and 2) personal limitations. As much as I would like to be super rev, “we all sin and fall short of the glory of God.” I seem to fall short a lot. No seriously. A lot. Sometimes even I am amazed how frequently I don’t quite nail it. And yet, (here lies the humility in the face of grace part) somehow God seems to work through me and in spite of me. That’s a miracle.
I’m really not trying to be self-deprecating here. (Though I am good at it). It really is a reality check for me. I wing it a lot. I mean honestly, I’m 25 and offering advice to 70 year old trying to raise their grandchildren or re-raise their own children. Not much experience there, so I offer what I can about personal relations, seeking God’s direction, loving without enduring abuses, and family systems. More often than not, I wing it. Sure, three years of seminary taught me a lot and I would be lost without the experiences I had there (especially work at the Carpenter’s House, First Hispanic UMC of Atlanta, CPE, Forest Park UMC, and The Open Door) but there’s still a lot to learn.
My latest “winging it” experiment (don’t tell him I said that) is with a congregant who has been in a spiritual desert for a few years now. We met and he told me his story (faith and personal) and I asked my “really hard questions” and I gave him a *homework assignment*. I asked him to look through magazines and pick out images that speak to him, that he likes, that depict things he likes to do. Faithfully, he is doing his tarea. The obvious question is “Deb, what are you going to do with the images?” Therein lies the winging it piece. Beats me. The idea just popped into my head so I went with it. I think I will exegete the *text*. I’ll do what I do with any text—look for words, phrases, ideas that pop out at me, look for themes, see what comes up, and go from there. And who knows where that will take us? My prayer is for guidance and wisdom. After that, I don’t have much.