A long time ago—almost ten years now, actually—I wrote on my old LiveJournal blog, "God has called me into ministry." I didn't know exactly what that meant back then, and from my perspective now, ten years later, I can see how I was already trying to reframe what God wanted me to do.
I believe that call was inspired by the struggles I was going through as a new child-loss mother. Less than a month prior to that statement, our first child, Genesis Aria Lutes, was born 3.5 months too early to be able to survive, even with the help of neonatologists. To say it was a hard loss would be an understatement. It was the moment that completely changed the trajectory of my life.
The years following that realization and statement took me down a winding road that included more loss in the form of miscarriages, losing friends, and yes, even losing faith to an extent. It also included research, and hope, and dreaming, and ideas, and about twenty different graduate degree programs I was convinced I would someday be part of. There was volunteer work, and creating a community learning center that never really took off, and having two children who did survive, and quitting my day job so I could be a mommy—and also so that I could heal from all the physical trauma that came with high-risk pregnancies and subsequent botched surgeries. There were a lot of struggles, and a lot of tears. There were friends made and lost, and some who became closer than family, and remain so to this day. There were church issues, betrayal, pain, and angst at God.
And through all of this, God still walked right alongside me. Probably at times doing that nice Jesus facepalm I'm sure you've seen around the internet. I know at least one of my friends has probably done this on the other end of our online conversations (or mentally when face-to-face) whenever I shared something "new" that was really a revelation of 10 years ago. So I wouldn't be surprised if Jesus has done this with me too.
For all of these years that I was trying to find my place, and work out my faith, I felt deep in my spirit that God wanted to have a Conversation with me. I capitalized that, because I knew that it would be The Mother of All Conversations, if you know what I mean. And if you don't, I mean, it would be The Call. The Call Into Ministry. The Call Into Ministry Where God Directs Your Every Move And You Go Where God Tells You To Go And Say What God Wants You To Say Conversation.
And I just would not have it.
"Oh, I know what you want to say, God, but I think what you really mean is that I can just be a lay minister and help out in the local church."
"Oh, I know what you want to say, God, but surely you mean that I can still pursue my previous academic interests and my ministry would be to my college students once I have my PhD."
"Oh, I know what you want to say, God, but I think you'll see that I'm very not equipped to do just that so I'll do this little thing over here and we'll just call it even."
And then there were times when I was just like:
But gradually, I felt my spirit softening, loosening its grip on what it thought God should tell me. I became more flexible, pliable, and eventually I metaphorically lowered my hands from their defensive stance.
And on December 24th, 2017, during a sermon I found quite dry and frankly messy, at a church that was not our own, while my brain went off on a tangent haughtily imagining how I would explain things differently, God broke into my thoughts and spoke.
"You will be ordained. You are going into the ministry. I will heal your rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto's, and I will give you the strength and stamina you will need to do all I am calling you to do."
I sat up straighter and looked around. Was it just in my head? Was it really, really God that just spoke that to me?
I immediately thought like Gideon and after the service told my husband and my friend, "I need a sign. I need to know this was God that spoke." But I didn't tell them what God said.
Didn't matter. They already knew. Because apparently everyone has known, for the past ten years, that God was calling me into the ministry. Everyone except me, maybe. Apparently. Probably.
So. Here we are, in the middle of January, and snow is falling, and for the past couple weeks I have been consumed with stepping into this new thing, this new identity. And maybe it's not a new identity, maybe it's just a full recognition of who I've always been from the start: a child of God with a voice and a lot of love to give.
So here's to the beginning of the journey. Again. Ten years later. I've finally spiraled back 'round to my starting point, with maybe a little more maturity on this side of things. Hopefully I'll recognize the path fully this time around and keep my feet moving in the right direction.