Friday, May 24, 2013

Rage


Aggressive and hard-charging women violate unwritten rules about acceptable social conduct. Men are continually applauded for being ambitious and powerful and successful, but women who display these same traits often pay a social penalty. Female accomplishments come at a cost. ― Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

A friend posted this quote as her Facebook status this morning.  Upon reading it, my gut clenched with rage.  There's simply no other word to describe that hot, angry rush of emotion that churned quickly upward from my gut to my heart to my throat.  Rage.

And naming it helps me admit that I am still very VERY angry about being forced out of two ministry positions.  Yes, TWO.

The first was a part-time position while I was in seminary.  The pastor was new to the church and had his own agenda (don't we all?) that didn't really line up with the mission or vision of the church.  Though long-time staff and members tried to warn him about some of his changes, he moved ahead.  An introvert who claimed to be an extrovert and a serious avoider of conflict, he simply didn't know what to do with me - a screaming extrovert who confronts things head-on.  After I pissed off one of my committee members (who didn't talk to me about it but triangled the pastor into the situation to "deal with it"), he called me into his office without warning and proceeded to list all the things I had been doing wrong.  The icing on the cake?  "Your personality is acceptable in man, not a woman.  This is just the reality of working in a church.  We all have weaknesses and your aggressive nature is just something you'll have to work on if you want to succeed in ministry."  I just sat there, stunned.  I mean, what the hell was I supposed to do with that information?

There were other things at work in that particular system that ended up pushing me out.  Granted, I left willingly because I was miserable there (an "aggressive", "liberal" woman serving in a conservative military town?  Not the best fit)...but my resignation letter was met with barely hidden relief.  Talking to other staff years later, they all admitted that though it wasn't intentional, I was set up to fail.

Awesome.

The second situation was more recent and stings a great deal more.  I think perhaps because I was gut-wrenchingly honest in my initial interview about my wounds from the first situation and was reassured that my "out-of-the-box" thinking and personality was why they were hiring me.

They lied.

All churches, organizations, companies, hiring entities do.  They don't mean to (or maybe sometimes they do) and they're not aware they're lying but they are.  Just like churches who swear they want to bring in young people and homeless folks and addicts and teenage moms and GLBTQ folk and that everyone is welcome.  No really!  EVERYONE!  The thing is, that kind of community is messy and unpredictable and grace is sometimes just too hard because we're just too different.

But I digress.

The details are different but the story is the same.  At the end of the day, my personality, theology, hobbies, and "stupid mouth got me in trouble" (to quote John Mayer).  I was told it was based on poor performance but that was bullshit.  And in the end, I was quietly ushered out the back door (while on maternity leave no less!) and no one batted an eyelash.  Well...that's not entirely true.  I know of one dear woman who confronted my previous supervisor about it but it went nowhere.  I *love* the good ole' boys club, don't you?

Before this goes too far, I am well-aware of my personal shortcomings.  I recognize that there are two sides to every story (maybe even more than that) and one's perceptions become one's reality.  Seeing as how this happened TWICE, I could certainly be the "common denominator" in the equation and it really could be all my fault.  I'm willing to have a conversation about that because I try to be a healthy individual who can admit her flaws and learn from her mistakes.

But reading that quote this morning tore off the (barely-formed) scabs over these wounds and the only thing I can articulate is a gaping-mouthed howl of rage.

And if I'm honest...really REALLY honest...

I'm done with ministry.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

God Says Yes To Me

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

by Kaylin Haught

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Slow Work of God

Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We would like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability - and that it may take a very long time. 

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Prayer for Today

God help us

God, help us to be people who are able to name,
and to be in touch with our own needs.
To shamelessly and courageously seek out others to journey with us,
and bring wholeness to our lives. 

Help us to be humble enough to understand
That we are all needy people,
And in the midst of our own brokenness,
called to care for the bruised and the broken around us.

You God, expected us to need redemption - 
you planned for it - 
you knew us before we knew ourselves.
Help us to honor people, your beloved of creation,
By bringing goodness, grace and mercy that leads to hope,
And trust in the person of Jesus,
Who has shown us what is good, and what is love.

Amen

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Near the End of the Journey by Rev. John Leech

The long strange journey of Lent is almost over –
but its destination is not of this world.
It lies beyond time, in eternity.

We do not know much about life in eternity.
What clues we have come, mostly, from Jesus –
from his own stories of the kingdom of
God to come on earth as it is in heaven, and
from the accounts in the New Testament,
of experiences of his presence after
his resurrection. What we glimpse of
the resurrected life we will come to
know through him –
But only surely in his own presence.
Until that encounter becomes real to us,
we live in the shadow of not knowing.

Peace be with you, he says to the disciples, as he
becomes present among them,
in the upper room where they
have gathered again after his death.

Peace be with you, he says to them,
as they absorb the living presence of
the one before them – there he is
among them: the resurrection
is real.

                                    Hello boys!
Got anything to eat? he greets them,
on another occasion. They seem to have
come to an end of their own resources
when he shows up, cooking breakfast
for them, there on the beach.
                                    Come to me. Come and eat.

Perhaps that is a clue to the mystery
What we hear is an invitation
what we see is a meal –
the Lord sets the Table,
the Lord invites us to eat
as in heaven
may it be on earth.
                                    Amen.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Coat by Vicki Feaver

Sometimes I have wanted
to throw you off
like a heavy coat.

Sometimes I have said
you would not let me
breathe or move.

But now that I am free
to choose light clothes
or none at all

I feel the cold
and all the time I think
how warm it used to be.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Catastrophization

No, it's not a real word but you get the idea, right?  Catastrophization - taking a potentially stressful or bad situation and playing it out to it's worst possible conclusion.  This is not my usual mindset but I have been succumbing to it more and more as of late.  I'm sure part of it has to do with all the upheaval in my life since this past June (husband transferred to a new office & living apart during the week, my proposal of a remote work situation being met with hesitation & concern, trying to sell our house to no avail, purging ALL our baby stuff only to discover I'm pregnant two weeks later, hubby finding another job back home, lots of transitions happening with my work...need I go on?) but I think a LARGE part of it can certainly be attributed to my pregnancy.  For some reason, I am all kinds of anxious this go 'round and it's making me CRAZY.

Prime example: I went in for my 36 week checkup yesterday and the doctor tells me that baby boy is transverse (ie lying horizontally as opposed to head-down & vertical in the womb).  She matter-of-factually explains that if he doesn't turn soon, they'll see if I'm a candidate for an external rotation and if that doesn't work, we'll have to schedule a c-section.

And just like that, I'm thrown into a tailspin of catastrophization.

"I don't want a c-section!  It's MAJOR SURGERY!  I'll be pinned down on a surgical table with a sheet separating me from my baby boy and I won't be able to hold him immediately and they're going to cut through my already flabby abdominal muscles and the recovery will be so much longer and worse and I'll be stuck at the hospital longer and I won't be able to go up & down the stairs at my house or carry my son or...." (you get the idea, right?)

So I post my concerns on the almighty Facey-face & Tweety-space...just to put it out there.  Not really looking for advice or anything - more wanting community and prayers and love.  A few wonderful friends & family message me privately to say they love me, they're praying for me and Dylan, and the understand my anxiety.  But, as we all know, social media is not the place to just vent.  And so I am flooded with folks whom I honestly believe meant well reassuring me that "c-sections are great!" and "The main thing is the health of the baby!" and so on and so forth.

None of which serves to calm the CRAZY in my head.

Fast forward a few hours: I had scheduled a chimney inspection for the afternoon...just your routine kind of thing.  The very nice man arrives, sticks his head up our chimney, goes outside & looks down our chimney, and then returns to inform me that our fireplace is a MAJOR FIRE HAZARD and has MASSIVE WATER DAMAGE (see what catastrophization does?  It puts everything in CAPS!  With EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!) that can be fixed to the tune of around $5,000.  Really?!  REALLY?!?!

The proverbial straw that breaks the preggo woman's back is the bill we receive from AT&T for DSL service that we've NEVER used and cancelled in JANUARY.  We've been getting bills from them since then and I've called every month, been assured that our account was cancelled and there's no reason we should be getting additional bills (with late charges tacked on, I might add).  When I call the customer service line at 5:45pm last night, I get the "our offices are closed" message that informs me their business hours are 8am to 6pm EST.  Ummmm...it's 5:45 EST, people.  WTF?

My husband arrives home after a long weekend hiking with the guys (his last hurrah before the baby arrives) around 7:30pm to a BASKET CASE.  I have managed to hold it together in front of my 7 year old daughter by playing Slamwich and making dinner with her but the cracks are starting to show.  We manage to get the girl in bed and sit down on the couch...where I LOSE IT.

Thank God my husband is a hospice chaplain.

He lets me cry, vent, freak out, give him all my catastrophization scenarios, and collapse into a snotty heap next to him without saying a word.  And just like that, I'm better (for now, anyway).

And while I'd like to end this post with some amazing theological insight or recognition that my life really isn't hard at all or this wasn't the WORST DAY EVER, the main lesson that reverberates for me is that I am deeply grateful for the safe people and spaces in my life who are able to hear me (really hear me) and remind me that I'm not alone on this journey.