It's been an interesting couple of weeks. I recently interviewed for the permanent version of the chaplain position that I have held as an interim over the past 10 months. I have written and spoken often of my love for Hollins University and her diverse and wonderfully eclectic students, faculty, and staff. It's been a calling that has felt like home from the very first moment I stepped on campus, almost a year ago. It's been a beautiful answer to years of prayers.
And yet, it was a bit nerve-wracking to interview for this position, to say the least. I went a little crazy with worry and insecurity as I faced competition, and I began to doubt myself, Hollins, and God. It wasn't pretty. When the job offer came last week, it was offered with some caveats and a reminder of the professional and sacred nature of the role. Instead of the victory I had been hoping for, I felt like I had just scraped by. It was pretty humbling.
I spent some time afterwards reveling in the flood of congratulatory texts, emails, and Facebook messages to make myself feel better. So much, in fact, that my phone was on the verge of dying within an hour due to overuse. But it was one note that helped me to re-frame this transition in a helpful light. A seminary friend and fellow minister pointed out the timeliness of this gift of celebration happening at Pentecost. Pentecost is like the birthday of the church. It celebrates when the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples after the death and resurrection of Christ. As they were gathered together, the sound like a rushing wind filled the room, and something like tongues of fire appeared among them, and the disciples began to speak in other languages so that the each person of those of many different nationalities gathered within the room could understand the speakers in his own language. Pentecost is a day of celebration of the Spirit, who works in powerful, yet unseen ways to bring rebirth and renewal, to give us the strength and the gifts to share God's love with others.
The greatest gift of my journey over the past year is the way that the Spirit has guided me, unseen, unrecognized at times, yet powerfully leading me into this calling. Part of my fear was that I was not trusting in God, and not trusting in who God has created me and is calling me to be. Instead of finding my value and worth in God, I was leaning too much on others' evaluations and praise.
And now, moving from Pentecost into Ordinary Time, I must remember the work of the Spirit, both within me and around me. I must seek that still, small voice inside as I seek to live out my calling here. My plans can only succeed if they are grounded in God's vision for the ministry here. I will fail (again) if I spend too much time seeking others' praise (or listening only to criticism). I look forward to moving ahead, but not forgetting the lessons I've learned (and continue to learn) on the way. I have room to grow, and that's what the journey is all about.
I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue to minister, serve, and learn alongside such excellent mentors, and I'm even more grateful to be reminded of the One in which I place my trust and discover my identity.