Monday, September 27, 2010

Procrastinating the Project

There's a story in the bible that makes me uncomfortable, though it's not the only one to do that. This particular story is that of Jacob wrestling with an angel, presumed to be God. That story makes me uncomfortable because it makes me think of all the times I have wrestled with God in my life, and to be honest, it creates this feeling of panic for the time that I will surely wrestle with God...and lose...not that that hasn't happened already. What I mean is that it creates in me this intense anxiety of God wrapping me in a full nelson, much like my older brothers used to practice on me, and getting me to cry "mercy" before doing what God is trying to coerce me to do. I don't think it really happens like that--the wrestling with God bit. I really don't. And my reading of Jacob's experience reinforces that it doesn't happen like that, but still, I can't let go of that eensy weensy suspicion that in my case it all might go down with a 10 second count. God 1. Me 0. Total Knockout. I realize I may be mixing sport lingo here, so to my one male reader (aka hubby): forgive me. Reluctant Pilgrim says that this passage might really be about wrestling with love. (
I'm saying all of this to really say that I've been wrestling with love on something--procrastinating out of anxiety and a host of other reasons and issues. A book. Okay, that's a big aim. The project I have finally agreed to begin is most likely not going to be a publishable work, but nevertheless, it is my dream to be a published writer. For so long, I have had this dream, but it has been more of a I wanna be a writer though I really don't know about what I would write kind of dream. I have no ideas.
I can remember being about 13 and asking my dad how to get started on a book. He said, "Well, you write what's called a synopsis, a summary of what your book is going to be about, and you send that to the publisher." So there I was in my teenage ambition with my purple feather-boa-tipped pen and my 3 pieces of torn out notebook paper, "Synopsis" scrawled across the top. And I had nothing to say.
Years later, I mentioned to a friend of mine, in passing, in one random conversation that I can't even recall now, that perhaps I would like to write a book.
A few weeks ago over lunch, her first question to me, "So how is your book coming?" "What book?" I asked, looking at her as if she had four heads.
"The book you said you would write. How is it coming?"
"Oh that," I said, even though I knew exactly what she was talking about. "I haven't started it yet. I don't have anything to write about."
"Why not write your story? You know sort-of like Richard Lischer's Open Secrets? A story about you and your journey. I can totally see you doing that."
"Who would want to read my story? It's not that interesting."
And then it occurred to me that I should tell my story, and not for other people, for me.
Not too long after that lunch came a breakfast with a church member who asked me about my writing. She occasionally reads this blog, and she said she'd like to read more of something from a book. And I said to her, "It's my dream to write a book. But I'm not sure I have anything to write about."
The following Sunday at church, she handed me a copy of the movie, Julie and Julia. A woman who writes about her life. And not only that...she takes on a project--something she does for herself.
I could do that, I thought. I could take on the project of telling me story...for me. Not because anyone will read it. But because it could mean something to me. And it would get me writing.
A few months ago, I met my heroine in writing, Lauren Winner. I love Lauren Winner. Her witty, insightful, and profound works make me wish I could be her for a day. So, when she came to speak at the conference I was attending, I was beyond thrilled. Imagine my surprise to hear her talk about all the people who had written to her saying that they wanted to be writers and were looking for her advice. Drat. I thought that was just my idea. Well, I was actually going to make an appointment and meet with her in person. But I can't believe all these other people had the same idea. So, she said in her lecture, that those of us who really want to write should just get started writing. Just do it. Write. But not for a book or magazine. Not to get published. But write. For writing's sake.
So, here goes. I'm starting the project. For me. For writing's sake. From time to time, I might post some things on here, but mostly, it will just be between me and my laptop and Jacob's God and love. Wish me luck, or love, or something like that.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Young Lady"

"Young lady," he said, and I knew immediately where this conversation was going to go. I have had this conversation before. I waited for the first in the series of veiled insults (in the form of questions and snide remarks), and I didn't have to wait long.
"I hear you're a woman . . . of the cloth (that last word he whispered as if ashamed to say it in the same sentence with "woman."
I thought about bolting at that moment, not wanting to have this predictable dialogue again, but instead, something like God whispered to me, "stay." "Yes, you could say that I am a woman of the cloth" I said.
"Well, I don't see how that's possible seeing as you're clearly only about 19. You must have just decided to take up preaching and made yourself a minister, because there's no way you've been to seminary....And who's your District Superintendent? Ah, that's a girl, too....You got a husband? Is he any good? The only good preacher is the one who has a pretty wife who blends in with the congregation, sings in the choir, plays the piano, you know, makes the preacher better....You're so young, you probably got about 50 more years before you retire, right?....Oh, you went to THAT seminary--ain't nothing but a bunch of liberals down there....stupid liberals who want us to help the poor, but the poor just want my money--they're deadbeats. You don't want any more cake? What's a matter--afraid of losing your figure? You the only preacher at that church? So, you preach every week? By yourself? You ever need a week off--call me and I'll come preach."
I've had this conversation before, but in the past, my responses would be tentative, brief, and above all--polite. I wouldn't make the other feel uncomfortable. Basically, I would take all the shots, and then say, "Nice talking to you."
But not this time. That voice inside me that whispered, "stay" powered my too often silenced self, and something different happened this time. I responded. As me. Without being defensive. Just calmly, and confidently, I let him know that I knew his game, and I wasn't going to sit quietly as little young lady. Dare I say it, I even (*gasp*) evangelized a little when he began taking pot shots at the poor and preaching his prosperity gospel.
I can't believe I am saying this, but I am glad for this conversation. Because the real me finally opened her mouth--the me that is called, affirmed, loved, and empowered to be who I am made to be--a pastor. An unapologetically young and female pastor.
"Let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be."--Paul, the former Christian-hating Jew who followed Jesus