This week has been one of the best weeks of my life and one of the worst weeks of my life. Attending the Preaching Practicum was one of the best experiences of my life. I was invited to the table to participate in the kingdom of God fully; my gender, background, age didn’t matter. I learned so much and felt so much love my heart could burst.
I even did my first public prayer ever, and it was in the presence of people I really feel unworthy of praying in front of because in my head I am thinking, “Who am I?” They are the ones who know what they are doing. I realize none of that is true, but when you have been raised a certain way, these thoughts are hard to overcome, no matter how free you may feel. Plus, I have no idea what I am doing. I am just listening to the Spirit and going places I never envisioned. It is really exciting, and it makes me nervous almost every day.
Praying that prayer did something to me, though. It was a transformative moment. I was so nervous going up to the podium, but I walked off feeling comforted. My heart just poured out to God, and I felt the support from the people in the room. None of them acted like I was crazy for being nervous either. They validated that my first prayer with Tony and Peggy Campolo in the room was intense. Like I always say, just hearing your feelings validated is empowering. No one fixed anything or said any magic words; they just agreed it is nerve-wracking and I would do great.
Wilshire pastoral residents are the best, by the way. They walked beside me every step of the way and encouraged me. I love all of you! George has cheered me on from the beginning of my time at Wilshire. I can’t vouch I did great, but I will vouch that I did it. I feel like a kid learning how to walk, and every little step I take that is new feels like our kids when they look at us so excitedly because they took that step and did not fall.
It is surreal to be on this journey. It happened because I went through a dark night. I remember my heart actually ached for two years straight. I could feel the pain and wondered if it would ever feel OK again. I would cry at the drop of a hat. Sometimes at Wal-mart, work or at home. What brought me back to life was Scripture. Which is surprising because for a while I only liked Jesus, and I thanked Scripture for that, but I wasn’t sure I wanted the Bible anymore—just give me Jesus.
Thankfully, I heard really good teachers through books and podcasts. Funny enough, not all were Christian either. They made me see the Bible in a new light, and I began to love it. I began to relate to the people in the Bible. They knew my pain and were speaking to it. They wrote it down for us. They were trying to figure out how to deal with their pain too, and sometimes they screwed up royally when dealing with it.
As Scripture brought me back to life, I realized I wanted to help do this for other people too. I did not know what that would look like, and I had no idea God leading us to Wilshire was going to be a place that would notice and start making that feeling a reality. I don’t even know how to put into words what this feels like. All that comes out is, “I love you, Wilshire!’ I pretty much say it every day.
It is hard when you are on a high to have your low hit again. The latest political fiasco has brought back some of the painful feelings of my past. I engaged with some friends in a way I wish I would have thought longer about before responding. I should have been prepared for the hit when something so amazing just happened. Darkness shows up when the light starts winning. I fell for it.
I am glad I have a place to write about this. Writing helps us discover what is happening. I discovered my own story by writing. So, I ask in the words of Michael W. Smith: “Pray for me, and I will pray for you.” These coming days are going to be so full of joy and pain. We will see the kingdom of God, and we will see what is not of the kingdom. Our glimpses of the kingdom keep us going.
Also, we need to remember we are not alone. I am thankful I can write this to you asking for help. We cannot take on every battle. We need each other. I am forever grateful to have you on this journey, Wilshire.