It’s been one year and nine months since I’ve become a full-fledged, full-time pastor. While I’ve managed to figure out a rhythm of life, I’m still surprised as the next person that I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m pastoring. I am a pastor. Is this some kind of cosmic joke?
I wish I’d kept track of the number of times I receive a look of surprise when I tell someone I’m a pastor. Not what you’re expecting, eh? I’m Asian, short, a woman, and young-looking. But not young-looking enough to be ID’d at the liquor store anymore, unless I’m buying bulk-size port for my church’s communion wine.
Well, I’m not what I expected either, especially in my (gasp) mid-thirties. I was supposed to be married to another Chinese Canadian, while raising two kids and winning engineering awards by now. Instead I’m composing sermons from a church-donated laptop and navigating the agitated waters of online dating. And when I should have been figuring out new casserole recipes in my renovated kitchen, I’m changing the light fixture in my rented room that holds all my worldly possessions.
And I’m fairly certain that I’m not what my family expected. I doubt my grandparents would have jumped for joy when I gave up my steady-paying job with benefits for the religious life. Come to think of it, a lot of my early expectations of myself coincided with the implicit expectations of my family. Things like:
marriage = good
singleness and childless = bad
property = good
owning little = bad
Yet, the experiences that I’ve had so far have taught me otherwise. There is freedom and delight in simplicity and celibacy. Having many things, including a family to raise and take of, is still good…. but the burdens are greater as well. And being open to change, to learning and growing, far outweighs the security found in the known and predictable.
Life is full of unexpected surprises, even when you have a map to navigate by. Some surprises take you by storm. Some take you by joy. I guess that’s how those early disciples felt soon after they decided to leave what they knew to follow a poor carpenter’s son. And maybe that’s how they continue to feel long after their leader sent them off to preach, teach, serve…. and you know, live life.
And when those surprises come my way, I’m finding that I react either with confusion or with amusement, but always proceeded with shock. Well, I didn’t see that coming. I hope that with time I’ll just keep be more amused, less confused, and always thankful. Thankful that I haven’t managed to lose my faith while wandering in the bitter barn. It can get pretty dark in there. Good thing someone changed the light.