I can’t sleep. I’ve been trying for a while now, but tomorrow I go before Presbytery (the regional church gathering in my denomination) for the final step in the process, the final approval before I can go ahead with my ordination service: I have to defend my statement of faith before Presbytery, and they vote whether to approve my joining the presbytery or not.
I’ve been telling myself that I’m not nervous, that I know my statement of faith and believe it, and that I tend to get the same questions and I can answer them well, that even if I get a question I’m unprepared for I will probably still be able to stumble my way through an answer. I don’t even feel nervous, or didn’t before I tried to fall asleep. It seems doable, and distant enough that I don’t need to worry yet. (That comes in the minutes or hours beforehand). But still I’ve been unfocused and unmotivated all day.
And–I am nervous. It’s the final step, and a big crowd, and I’ll have to be loud. I’m sure at least one question will be unexpected, and I’ll fumble around and just feel so awkward the entire time I’m up there.
I’m just trying to remember that it’s okay to be nervous. It’s natural. It’s okay to acknowledge that I’m nervous and that this is a big deal. It’s okay to name my fears about tomorrow. And that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to let it take over. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to let my nerves turn me mean or frozen or anything else. It just means totally ignoring it or shoving my feelings aside is a way of lying to myself, of saying that I’ve got it all together and I’m a good little robot of a human and I don’t need God to keep me from turning into a quivering mess. None of those things are true. None of them are even worth striving for.
It’s just way harder to sit with the fact that I’m nervous than it is to shove it aside. It’s way harder to remember that I don’t have to do it alone and depend on God and other people. It’s difficult to listen to myself, because what about those moments when I say things that are ugly and uncomfortable and that I’ve been trying to avoid for weeks?
But there’s something so incredibly freeing, too, about being honest, about admitting what I’m feeling and sitting with it. It becomes so much less serious. It becomes something I can embrace rather than avoid and deny, and with embrace comes acceptance and that moment of letting go of judgment. “It’s okay that I feel this way.” It’s never okay to act that out in ways that are hurtful or sinful or dangerous–but it’s okay to feel.
I got a job!!!
Technically the term is “accepted a call,” …and technically it’s two churches! I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve accepted a call to Chartiers Valley Presbyterian Church and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. I start soon, and I’m beyond excited.
But I’m trying to hold on to that excitement, because the reality of the matter is that these past few weeks have been stressful. Getting ordained is no task for the faint-hearted: there have been committee meetings and session meetings and joint meetings, with all of the attending paperwork. There’s the planning of the ordination service, asking participants and figuring out a service I’ve never seen done (I had a forty minute conversation with the officiant about all this) and the music, and then there’s letting all the important people in my life know this is happening and arranging for them to stay nearby or being sad they couldn’t come. I’ve been completing background checks and rewriting my statement of faith. I went home to sort through everything I have there and start packing it up to finally come stay with me–in the apartment I don’t yet have but am trying to look for, in between meetings with future congregants and reading annual reports and writings sermons and maybe hopefully cleaning so my parents don’t think I’m a total slob.
I think I forgot something–which is how I’ve been feeling pretty constantly for weeks now.
Look. I’m not trying to throw a pity party here. I know I stress myself out about everything sometimes, whether it’s important or not. Trust me, I know. (I live with that anxious voice saying maybe my background check will have a non-existent crime reported even though I’ve literally never been in a courtroom and maybe the robe I ordered will be terrible and maybe I screwed up something tiny on my last piece of paperwork so that now this is all going to fall apart)
I just want to say that I really really don’t want all this stress to be my memory of my ordination and starting this new job. I want to do what I can and leap in rather than linger and worry and stress out about things that in all likelihood will never happen. I want to rejoice in the blessings, like seeing my family and extended family, like receiving a call and being ordained and all the other people who are also working to make this happen. I want to not worry away the time.
I’m so not there yet. SO not there: Writing this reminded me of three other emails I need to send and one other place I’d like to clean and one other appointment.
But it also reminded me of where I’d like to be. So, here’s to holding on; here’s to wading through all the worries while sometimes pointing out that they’re kinda really stupid without bashing yourself for worrying about them. Just…let’s keep holding on. Let’s keep moving forward, worries be damned, and enjoy the good things.