Thursday, September 2, 2010
"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