So as promised, I’m going back through my notes from the To Be Told conference with Dr. Dan Allender this weekend. You know how when you hear somebody speak and everything they say is like “WOW” and you can’t write fast enough? Yeah, that was me. I’m planing to listen back through to a copy of a previous conference to see if I can pick up on some of the things I missed writing down.
However, one thing among several that stuck out to me was this:
Your calling is not what you do, but how you do it.
It took a minute or two for that to sink in. For me to really grasp what Dr. Allender was saying. Honestly, it was probably the next day before I really understood what he was getting at. And then it was like a light came on.
I’ve felt so lost since I left my church in regards how I can go about serving God in the areas of the my “calling” of leading worship and Bible teaching since I don’t really have anywhere to do that now. Both of those areas are definitely dear to my heart and places where I thrive. Music makes me come alive and I love studying the Word of God. I’ve been told so many times, oh leading worship or teaching the Bible is your calling, and I’ve surely felt that to be true. But after hearing and mulling over that one little nugget it was like it was clear to me. My calling is not leading worship or teaching the Bible.
No. My calling is this: To be faithful to my scars.
But what does that mean? Another thing Dr. Allender said was that we can find our brokenness and our passion by looking at whatever causes us to make a fist. And in looking back over my own experiences there is one area that incenses me so much.
It’s when sheep are orphaned by the church. Over the years I have seen sheep who have strayed from the path and have been booted out of the fold on their ear. I have seen sheep who refuse to sit down and stay quiet be frozen out of the flock. I have seen wounded sheep limp away unnoticed. And to that I say, no. That is not how the church is supposed to operate. Sheep don’t just wander off without a reason. Either the gate got left open or somebody tossed the sheep away. And somebody has to care why.
I have found myself orphaned by the church more than once. I still distinctly remember to this day one Sunday morning when I was probably about 16 or 17 and I was teaching 3rd grade Sunday school. Me and another lady each did every other Sunday and on this particular Sunday, she walked into the classroom on my Sunday thinking it was her week to teach. When she realized I was already there and set up, she acted haughty and ugly to me in front of the kids because she said I had taken her day. Honestly I don’t remember if it was her day or mine, but what I do remember was how embarrassed I was in front of the kids because she’d made me feel so small. I avoided her after that and if I remember right, I quit teaching Sunday school when that year was up.
In another situation, I had a friend a few years ago who made a mistake. He did something he shouldn’t have done and was basically tossed out on his ear. He didn’t even hear from the pastor for nearly three weeks after it happened. Amazingly, he stood through it and has grown in his faith in Christ as a result of walking through that trial and the relationship he had with that church has since been healed, praise God. But more often than not, it doesn’t end that way. Were it not for his resolve to find healing and reconciliation, I dare say he’d have been completely forgotten.
Being orphaned by the church, whether in a small thing or a big one, can be deeply painful and unsettling. The places you thought were safe aren’t safe anymore and the places you thought you stood firmly are all of a sudden shaky. So many times I saw situations from a quite different perspective than the majority and I was made to feel like I was in the wrong, like I was making a bigger deal out of something than what it was.
But my scars tell me otherwise. I know what it feels like to be belittled by someone in the church because they are older or because they have more authority that I do. I know what it feels like to be shushed like a child whose opinion carries little to no weight. I know what it feels like to be overlooked. I know what it feels like to be wounded by the church. And I know what it feels like to walk away from a church I served faithfully for almost 16 years and it to go virtually unnoticed by the majority of those in leadership.
Church wounds run pretty deep and can be incredibly difficulty to get over. In being faithful to my scars, I allow myself to be vulnerable about them and it opens up space for others to feel less alone. I can mourn alongside those carrying their own church scars.
My calling? To be faithful to my scars…to be a safe place for those orphaned by the church.
What about you? What calling do you believe God has given you? What things cause you to make a fist?