Finding my Fit

Jesus instructs, He informs, He implores: “You are not of this world” and although my heart attunes itself away from this world and upward to heaven, my soul still strives to fit in, strains to find its niche and struggles to flourish upon this earth. One might describe this life – my travels, my journey, my pilgrimage – as one of fits and starts, missed turns and dead-ends, roundabouts and u-turns.

The odyssey demands definition and queries, “What four words best describe your mind, best embody your heart, best illuminate your soul? Who are you; what do you desire; how are you fed? What dreams haunt you in the day, what visions plague you at night, what passions fuel you at all times?” The answers to these questions, the wrestling with their meanings, the connotations they suggest evoke one to define, cajole one to describe, and seduce one to limit.

I am a female, a woman, a creation made in God’s image. I am decisive to my core, direct with others, dominant in relationships and dependent on nothing and no one. And yet most know me as tenderhearted, transparent, traditional and tearful.

I am a mom- a mother of many, a mother who adopts, a mother who homeschools. Banish your mind pictures, your mental maps, your immediate perceptions of denim-jumpered, socially-awkward, sheltered children who only respond with permitted “no sirs”, “yes ma’ams”, or silent submission. Neither imagine shoddily-dressed, socially-free, exposed children who always retort with slang words, swear words or defiant diatribe. I am a mother who expects respect but not rhetoric, obedience but not obeisance, service for others but not subservience; I am a mom who encourages freedom but not without limits, self-expression but not without boundaries, individuality but always within God’s creation.

I am a Christian, a child of God, a follower of Christ. It is He who stands at the center, forms the foundation, and conveys the masterful composition of that which I call life. And yet in this life, in this society wooed by dichotomy, in this world scourged by dissension, the proud title, the humble calling, the whispered reality of a Christian must be further defined. It is in that defining I struggle to fit, unable to fully acknowledge mainlines, unwilling to fully accept evangelicals, unauthorized to fully engage and enter either. Too conservative in certain circles, too liberal in certain spheres, certainly too willing to embrace tension and paradox in all arenas.

I am a ministry leader, a preacher, a pastor. I am associated with, I am connected to, I am put up with by, and yet I serve, a denomination which resolutely disallows women pastors and seems to painfully ignore my presence while encouraging me to accept its rules outlined in the Discipline. In relative obscurity, I minister in a role mostly disallowed, in a house church hardly recognized, in a holy Name largely forgotten – a Name which represents a Spirit who convicts, instructs and guides; a Father who chastises, protects, and sacrifices, and a Mother who gathers, coddles and comforts Her children.

Maybe it is true for each of one of us; our job titles, our personality profiles, our life pursuits, our God callings connect us with groups, categorize us as amorphous entities, confine us to expectations, corral us into cages from which we cannot escape. Four words cannot grasp the fullness of complexity, the vastness of personality, the richness of identity and we acknowledge that truth, remembering and realizing even four gospels cannot grapple with Him whom we call Savior. “I am not of this world,” I hear Him say, and knowingly nod, realizing yet again, and this time with attempted acceptance, with increased fervor, with blessed reassurance, this world is not my home.