“If being ordained meant being set apart from them, then I did not want to be ordained anymore. I wanted to be human. I wanted to spit food and let snot run down my chin. I wanted to confess being as lost and found as anyone else without caring that my underwear showed through my wet clothes.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
There are things most church folks keep hidden. We pretend our marriages are healthy, our children are making the right choices and that we have quiet time with God every day. We pretend to be part of the right political party for our denomination, to read the right books and know the right bands.
Growing up in the church I have pretended a lot. When my husband and I became ordained and entered full-time ministry I kept pretending. I didn’t talk with church members about the books I read, movies we went to or music I liked. When one talked about their favorite praise and worship band, I didn’t reveal that I don’t like the sameness of Christian music.
There’s nothing wrong the fiction books I read or the movies we see and music I listen to. But I was sure some members of our congregation wouldn’t approve so I kept the charade of piety.
My family is loud with stories and opinions but quiet about things that matter.
When my parents’ marriage was falling apart no one told us. At Christmas break they moved us to a new town, leaving the only life we’d known, not telling us why or what was next. They were experts at hiding what we needed most.
When you’re loud and talkative and laugh a lot, people can be easily fooled into thinking you’re an open book. Loudness is the best thing to hide behind.
The words of Barbara Brown Taylor stopped me cold. I read them again and then one more time. Although she was writing about leaving her calling as an Episcopal priest, I know those words because I live them too.
Even when you show parts of yourself, people think the title, pastor, minister, reverend, etc. takes away marital strife, depression, anxiety, or problems of any kind. Conversely, they think you are a biblical encyclopedia and have deep unwavering faith.
We decide a lot about a person based on their title or outward personality. Dr. gives an elevated status of education. Clerk marks them as ordinary. An introvert can seem awkward but behind the titles and outward signs are stories left untold.
Age is bringing an unwrapping for me. An acknowledgment of who I am without apologies. I don’t need to defend my reading choices or taste in music. Like Taylor, “I want to be human”. I want to be seen as the flawed, searching woman I am, clinging to God’s grace every day.
Perhaps more than an unwrapping it’s bringing an understanding and acceptance. I am Gods beloved. Every piece I think I’ve hidden is known to him and still, his love chases after me all the days of my life.