If you’ve read my last couple of blog posts (here and here), you know there has been a lot of growth and self-discovery happening in my life this year, especially in the last few months. I’ve entered into and out of relationships, encountered difficult lessons at work that have required me to take a deep look at myself and others, and been brought to my knees–in despair and joy–over and over again by the pain and beauty I’ve witnessed in this city and around the world. The news has been hard to keep up with, with new absurdities happening almost daily, but I’ve been living out my own little acts of resistance–unapologetically being myself and staying energized with podcasts and music and good friends. I’ve been staying present with my students at the Y and the folks in Pigeon Town whose spirit and conversations give me hope that we can bridge these gaps. I’ve grappled with the tensions that come with community living, acknowledged my own privilege daily, practiced equanimity in times of great uncertainty and fear related to health issues, vocation, and relationships. It’s been hard, but so sweet. Such a sweet time of growth and community and joy.
It was a year ago that I received the email I was placed in NOLA for my YAV year–I’ve kept this photo above my bed all year, helping me remember how right and joyful this was from the moment I found out <3 I’m going to miss my little space
As I reach the end of my volunteer year, I can’t help but slip into reflective mode. But I’m trying to catch myself because if I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that this is the moment (*sings Este Momento until every YAV around the world yells at me to stop*) and what the next one holds will forever be a great and beautiful mystery. I’m trying to stay present and open to what else this year has to offer before crossing the threshold into my new adventure.
The greatest gift I’ve received this year is knowledge and awareness of self and the courage to begin embracing my queerness as an integral part of my true identity in Christ–as a Beloved child of God. This particular identity of queer, for me, is not only speaking on my sexual identity. It is tied up in my belief system and in my politics.
In Rev. Patrick Cheng’s book Radical Love, he defines queer as, “a self-conscious embrace of all that is transgressive of societal norms . . . to ‘queer’ something is to engage with a methodology that challenges and disrupts the status quo . . . to turn convention and authority on its head. It is about seeing things in a different light and reclaiming voices and sources that previously had been ignored, silenced, or discarded.”
I am proclaiming through the embracing of my truest self that I am no longer willing to be an angry yet passive observer of oppression–I am proclaiming that I stand for truth and love and justice for ALL. Full stop. Those in leadership (namely 45) here in the US have provided such contrast when set alongside my vision for the future of the world, and more specifically the church. I am proclaiming that my vision for the future is counter-cultural and missional in nature–a new vision, a new mission, in which we no longer use God’s Word to exclude, condemn, or hate but to embrace each individual fully as made in the image of God through our words and actions.
This is all relevant and important, because it is this self-compassion and thirst for justice that gave me the courage and clarity to apply for seminary. It is God’s Love and Jesus’ radical inclusivity and acceptance that allowed me to embrace parts of myself I thought to be deficient, as much as I tried to convinced myself otherwise. I just couldn’t do it alone. The person I am, not just my sexual identity but my personality, my body, my being, are pleasing and Holy in God’s sight. That is where I begin now–this knowledge informs my actions, not just forgives them. This has changed my life in every way and I’m hungry for more. I want to discover more and discern how to use my gifts in a way that praises and serves this Loving God and the world He so carefully created. I think I’m finally in a mindset and heart space where I’m ready to give from a true place of abundance–I know who I am and I’m becoming confident in my enoughness. I want to serve from that place.
“Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate.” – Galatians 6:14, The Message
All this to say, I applied to Princeton Theological Seminary in January, I was accepted on March 9th, and, at the beginning of June, I made the decision to begin in Fall 2017. I AM SO EXCITED. It was a slow and deliberate process of discernment but now that I’ve found clarity, I’m incredibly psyched to share this happy news with you all.
So there ya have it- I will be starting at PTS in September 2017, pursuing my Masters of Divinity, and walking through the process towards ordination with the Presbytery of Florida and my home church in Pensacola. I’ve started my summer reading and I’m already on fire consuming these books, always eager to learn and expand and embrace and question. I’m grateful to be on this journey of lifelong self-discovery and I’m nervous and excited to continue discovering my call in ministry.
I want to offer up deep and heartfelt gratitude for God’s ever present Spirit that has been with me all this time, even when I was too far away from the source to feel it there. The grace is unbelievable. I also offer gratitude to all those who have walked this path alongside me, my family, closest friends, community members, and home church in Pensacola. You have shaped me into a woman who cannot keep beauty to herself. You helped me see the beauty I’m comprised of when I was too weak to remember and all I know to do is devote the rest of my life to help others in remembering their Beloved identity in return.