Friday, April 4, 2014

Warning: Expletives and Honesty Ahead

It’s rare that I get a non-fiction book and can’t put it down. And yet, such was my experience with Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book, Pastrix. If you don’t know who she is, let me just encourage you to do some googling and reading. I don’t think she’s old enough to be my role model but she is anyway…

I’ve finished the book and know that I will go back and read it again. Crazy thing, though…as I finished reading it, I was just annoyed. At myself. You see, I really did not want to go into ordained ministry. Throughout the whole looooong process of ordination, I honestly expected someone to finally look me in the eye, and go, really? You think you’re called to ministry? Ha! No way. You see, I know myself pretty well and I know that I am not one of those people.

I started the process after having a good long chat with God. That would be me doing the chatting. It went something like, “fine…I’ll do this, but I’ve got to be me. I can’t be all preachy and pious and serious and church-lady-like.” I figured since no one said “no” to me that meant God was satisfied with our little arrangement.

Except, I didn’t keep my end of the bargain. I sold out to some of the expectations I had as to what it meant to live into the vocation of ordination. I am mostly nice to people. I do not generally express my emotions using expletives or profanity. I don't even have a cute little butterfly tattoo on my ankle. I maintain a calm, perhaps even serene, demeanor. And there are times I just want to scream.

No, that doesn’t mean that I want to express all of the four letter words that are very much a part of my “normal” vocabulary at all times and in all places. It means, though, that I get tired of trying to live up to all the expectations (including my own) because I am NOT that person. I am so freaking human and flawed it’s not even funny. What’s really, really crazy about that is that I KNOW that God loves me anyway. That God gets my humanity and embraces it, that God uses my humanness to help me love more deeply because I can’t get there without going through the messy work of accepting my own shortcomings. So, I’m a little – ok, a lot – tired of being what some might call a hypocrite. Yes, it’s easier for me to just be easy-going and calm and nice and all that…but holy (expletive), it really means that I’m stuffing all that down in front of people only to let it out somewhere else. Stupid, if you ask me. Good for my continued appointment, but…really? Stupid.

I mentioned in last week’s sermon, when we were looking at the beatitudes regarding the peacemakers and those who are persecuted, that there is something about this vocation that invites a kind of persecution. I know, deep gasp on your end, but hear me out… First, I am a single, female clergyperson. If you were to invite me to a social gathering and introduce me to your friends by both my name and my vocation, I guarantee you all conversation will stop. There is a predictable and deafening silence that always – ALWAYS – follows. No one knows what to do with a preacher lady. And, as they give me that kind of deer-in-the-headlights look, I can also see the giant thought-balloon above their heads – did I say anything offensive? Should I hide my wine/beer/mixed drink behind my back? How soon can I move on to a more comfortable group of people?

Not to be offensive, but it is really starting to piss me off (see, I just can't let go…). And, yes, I know this is absolutely NOT what Jesus was talking about as far as persecution goes. As far as I know, no one is out to kill me because of my vocation. But (expletive), it makes it really (profanity) difficult for me to connect to people with any sense of honesty on either side.

So, yes, I was annoyed as I finished her book. Annoyed primarily at myself but also at you people. I don’t want all of your expectations. I want the freedom to just be me, with all my flaws and (expletive). I don’t want all of my expectations, either. And now I sound like a whiney (expletive)…and that irritates me even more.

Here’s the deal…I choose to live as fully as I can into who God created me to be, with all my flaws, all my shortcomings, all my gifts, all my annoying habits, and all my passions. Sometimes, it will not look like the ideal of a clergyperson. It may be that many times it won’t look like that. The thing is, God is working in and through me. I am not finished. But I cannot completely ignore all those parts of me that you might prefer not to see. That’s not fair to me or to you. So, I’ll be the me I am today and let God be at work moving me to the me I will be in the future. Meanwhile, you be you. God’s doing some cool stuff in your life as well. I’m pretty excited with what God can do in both of us…but (expletive) can we please just accept each other as is for now?


  1. Cut loose preacher lady

  2. :-)

    Love this. Love you. I read that book about ? a month ago...? I thought of you immediately. I have many parallels in my personal-professional life as well and I remember checking myself in similar ways as Nadia's experiences resonated within me... That kind of authenticity is reminiscent of the beatitudes. It seems so courageous and brave on the surface, but on deeper reflection, it is more akin to meekness and vulnerability; it seems to be something that happens rather than something that is chosen and something that arises from a state of absolute lack of defense.

    ... similar to the way that children are often so brutally honest ... no on purpose as an adult would be, but because there is no filter, no defense. It can be hurtful to others sometimes if the other person loses perspective and forgets that the speaker is a child. But, that honesty can expose the child's extreme lack of defense and leave the child in a state of vulnerability ..... That's how Nadia's extreme honesty and authenticity felt to me-almost like she had no choice in speaking and living that truth and authenticity.

    It is interesting to me. Sorry to ramble.

    Great Blog. So glad you do this. SO GLAD you went through with the ordination, even if you are not perfectly imperfect ... hahahaha~ you're amazing!

  3. Next time I see you, I'll give you a nod and a smile. It'll be secret code for "@@&" to see ya!"

  4. That doesn't work. Let's try "@$& good to see ya!" That's a better secret code.

  5. sort of unsolicited reaction: refuse to accept others' expectations, and don't apologize for it. i know, easier said than done, but i've worked on that for 25 years now (literally), and it makes for a much calmer inner life...and leads to fun and healthy perspectives on said others expectations.

    1. Thanks for the unsolicited reaction, Bob! I don't generally apologize for being who I am. I do, still, get frustrated when I run smack into others' expectations but I'm working on!

  6. Don't ever doubt you are in the right place. Love you and all that you are - warts and all!