Since I was honored today in staff meeting for my nearly year of service as an intern at Wilshire Baptist Church, along with my sister intern Leah Lucas, I will say something about my time at Wilshire as an intern and member. I might as well do it now because I cannot do this at the same time as my farewell to Perkins as a student. I received “A Woman’s Lectionary for the Whole Church” Year W from Wilshire. Then I went to lunch with Ashley Robinson before she officially leaves for Georgia. Gah! I am going to miss her.
Whitney Houston’s song has been in my head for a while now when I think of you, Wilshire. You gave me that one moment in time where I was more than I thought I could be. I taught my first ever adult Bible class, with men present too, ever in my life right from the start. That was a really big deal to me. When opportunities that may not seem like a big deal to many are not afforded to others, it can have an impact that is a really big deal— it was for me. I started rethinking who I was and what I could actually do. I thought I was too shy. I do not speak to groups. What is happening? I now see how damaging it is to stay in churches, no matter how much we love them and they love us, where women are held back for any reason outside of their own agency. I realize now I need to be a voice for this. It is not to cause harm, but to heal.
I have been wounded deeply in many different parts of my life. I am a trusting person by nature and I have been crushed by it. It has taken me a while to heal at Wilshire, along with additional resources like therapy, and get back into the game and be the storyteller I am. Looking back too long was sending me back into a tailspin of grief at the beginning of this journey at Wilshire and Perkins, but I had to do it to heal.
Wilshire kept believing in me even when she did not understand me. How could you understand me? I did not understand myself. I could not figure out why I was crying so much when I was so happy, until I saw the wounded child in me who needed comfort. Stories kept falling apart and betraying her all throughout her life. The light inside me was almost gone until I got Wilshire. The fire in my belly grew the minute I walked into these doors and my life has never been the same.
It is hard to trust in this world, isn’t it? I have decided I am going to trust again, and I can tell when people do not trust me. It is instinctive just like I can sense when someone is in pain. I hope I can help heal some of this. I agree with Richard Rohr that we should replace the word faith with trust for a while. After all, that is what faith is asking us to do. Might we get hurt and betrayed again? Certainly, and most likely. But real things happen too. Glennon Doyle, the same woman who told me to go through my pain when I was completely undone, is helping me once again as I learn to live and find where God is leading me now. She said this when explaining her word “brutifal”: everything that is beautiful is also brutal. If you don’t accept the beauty, you do not get the brutal. If you don’t accept the brutal, you don’t get the beauty.
I really want the beauty. I am willing to accept the brutal. I have lived through it and I keep finding deeper beauty and joy in life. Does not make the brutal okay—it is just part of life and I want to do what I can to be a healer with whatever time I have left to breathe into this brutifal world. In one of my books I am reading for school about Romans, it talks about people being natural homewreckers. I think the fire in me that motivates me is creating a home for people again. This is why I am inviting you to naps, yoga, to play, and work can be a lot of fun too. Work gets more serious when we feel at home in ourselves and with each other. It meant a lot to me to hear Heather Mustain say that I am known for my positivity and love of church. I am glad that is seen and understood, because I love this place and it is a real love. It has not been an easy road and that is what makes it a beautiful story.
I love you Wilshire.
I also need to add a quote from “A Wrinkle in Time.” Madeleine L’Engle is my newfound obsession. This about Charles Wallace.
Mrs. Whatsit: It is lucky he has someone to understand him.
Mrs. Murry: But I’m afraid he doesn’t. None of us is quite up to Charles.
Mrs. Whatsit: But at least you are not trying to squash him. You’re letting him be himself.
Thank you, Wilshire, for letting me be myself.