Years ago, I read about an opportunity to explore narrative leadership in the back of The Christian Century. (Yes, it really is that wonderful of a publication that I mention it in two blog posts in a row.) I signed up and headed to DC where I found myself among a group of Cooperative Baptists who were befuddled that I had found my way there. It was the first experience I had ever had where I tried to align this work that I do with the stories of my childhood — the random and chaotic events that have shaped who I am.
Because, honestly, I would rather forget most of these stories. It’s not that my childhood was bad. It wasn’t. It was just complicated and no matter how much I might identify with the wounded healer, there is some part of me that just wants to be freakin’ healed already. But, I have not been so lucky. I would like to meet the person who is. No, really, please do introduce yourself because I want to know what it is that you feel when you stand and sing Blessed Assurance. Because when I sing “this is my story, this is my song,” I’m praising my Savior that I got through those things and wondering where in the world that story and song will lead me next.
So, it’s no surprise that I found myself leading such a conversation on Sunday night. Or it shouldn’t be but I was surprised when one of the participants exclaimed, “Oh my! This is something I ask my staff to do but never give myself permission to indulge in.” It seems — in fact — that I’m no different. I needed to create an adult education opportunity wildly adapted from something I found on the Thoughtful Christian to find the space myself. A space that would allow me to draw this story.
Because I want to be prayerful but prophetic — or what I called bold that night, but I don’t want to have hard edges. I want to be soft and gentle. I want to be curious and hopeful but I always, always, always want to be grounded in love. This is my story, this is my song. I can sing that now but I must admit that I was completely surprised that this is what emerged from this time. A few days before, I had been trying to articulate my passions. I had been asked to state what I’m most passionate about and I was more befuddled than those Baptists a few years ago. The cursor blinked at me, demanding an answer that I couldn’t summon from within myself. No really. It was bad. I hadn’t the foggiest idea so I phoned a friend, or rather a group of friends. I asked my covenant group to help me name that thing that I could not name, that passion that most excites me. Their response was monolithic. Because they do know me well. Because my passion is JESUS. That’s right all you Baptists and others that think that the United Church of Christ is full of closet Unitarians. I am here to burst your bubble. I love me some JESUS which led me to write this:
I feel like such a church nerd saying this, but the truth is: Jesus Christ. I came into this story as a little girl after my mother had died. Somehow, I found myself in church talking with people old enough to be my grandparents about the healing power of Jesus Christ. I was only eight at the time so that’s not what you would have overheard in our coffee hour conversations. Instead, you would have heard this little girl and these older saints trying to understand life and death, sharing our stories and doing what Christians do best: loving each other. This is what we do because of Jesus Christ. As much as I want to understand this mystery, as often as I struggle to grasp this second part of the Holy Trinity, there is something about Jesus. There is something captivating and amazing so that I am always wanting more. It may forever define me as a church nerd but what I am most passionate about is the justice, the peace and the hope that Jesus Christ offers this world — and I so want to be a part of that story.
This is part of my story and I’m still trying to figure out how to sing it. Clearly, I need some others to join me in singing because it was damn hard getting to just this little paragraph — but there is more that I want to realize as I praise my Savior. There is more that I’m trying to tell myself and my God. I just have to find the right words.