The past few days I struggled with a big question about my future. I’m in the search & call process with the UCC. That’s my denomination, the church entity that has approved me for ordination, pending a call from a church or nonprofit organization’s ministry.
The UCC offers an online portal to introduce ministers and congregations.
It’s like online dating!
Make your profile. Tell your story. Share your likes, hopes, fears. Use open body language. Put your best foot (er, anecdote, theology, skill set, wish list) forward.
Really, it’s a long dance we undertake together.
So I’ve spent the past year or so speaking with different faith communities. You could think of it as breathless swivel of the hips, chin nod, and shoulder shimmy. We look at each other. Catch eyes. Look away. Try again.
If we’re interested, there’s a flurry of fast and zesty salsa steps. Then lots of slow swaying and circling, stepping back to arms-length for a better view. Maybe stopping for space to breathe and think.
Letting the rhythm take over. Immersing oneself in the music, regardless of who shows up to join the flow of movement and searching.
Fanning away the heat. Cooling off. Clearing the head. Leaning closer for a few up-close embraces.
Wondering if the heartbeat will slow down, or is this the one?
I’ve danced a lot with some special partners. Sadly said, “We’re not on the same beat …” to a few. One circled back, hoping I’d change my mind. Some didn’t even bother to wave good-bye. One danced with me and a few others almost all night, but I was all alone (or it felt like it) for ‘Stairway to Heaven’ at midnight.
Some have been quick dances, both of us knowing when the music would start and stop. We were glad to find each other, and ready to let go again, when the tune changed.
I’m still dancing. And wondering who my long-term partner will be, should be … We’re taking our time.
As I wrestled with this question recently, I called a few friends to check in. To keep up the metaphor, you could say that I snapped a quick “weefie” with the latest romantic interests, texted the images, along with a few hashtag comments to summarize my feelings and thoughts, and asked for their feedback. What should I do? Like? Swipe left? Save? Reply? Follow? We held tense conversations about the best way to say “NO” and when to say “YES.”
About the time I was obsessively speaking with a minister friend about these possible matches, cell phone wedged near my mouth, someone knocked at the door. Really. Not a metaphor.
My husband answered it, because I was busy on the phone. Two evangelical missionaries literally came to my front door, and read scripture to us, while I had was halfway through a syllable. One of those sisters of the Spirit read Matthew 6:25-34.
Here’s the passage (NRSV): 25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Apparently I was too busy on a cell phone, my head and heart filled with the white noise of worrying, to listen closely. So I received an obvious prompting from the Spirit.
God! Sent! Someone! Knocking! At my front door!
Right there, in the bright April sunlight, stood two holy women, reading us a message from the Gospels.
Could it be more blatant? Sometimes God has to hit me over the head, or I just don’t pay attention, or pause long enough to trust that the Spirit is already leading me.
This is how I understood that experience. For me, it was a reminder: Don’t worry. Don’t be anxious. Don’t choose the safe way — or the first and most obvious dance partner — from a place of uncertainty and fear about the future. The path may not be straight, but a way will be made open.
So I’m going to try to just listen to the music, dance along with it, and believe. Believe.
Because the whole time I was waiting for the ‘right one’ to show up and want to dance together all day and all night? Well, I had forgotten that I already have a partner … the one who wrote the song in the first place!