I set off today…like a time bomb completely ready to explode with anxiousness (the good anxiousness, not to be confused with fearful anxiousness) because today I began my journey through my roots aka the Midwest, visiting people who have changed my life.
I was anxious to see what people were going to say to me. Do they think I’m crazy for leaving a job I love, yet having no idea what or where is next? What words of wisdom would they pass along? What things would they say to make me laugh a genuine gut laugh or as some would call it, “the squeak laugh”?
I decided three days ago that I would seek purpose with each day of this month. This morning, as I waited for my delayed flight (the first of 2) I was convinced that today was going to be about patience. Not for myself, but with others. Maybe not so much patience, maybe more tolerance.
Let me tell you why: this man, let’s call him “Herbert” because that seems like an obnoxious enough name(sorry to any readers named Herbert–your mother should have thought harder). Herbert was middle aged, tall, loud, overweight, and are you ready for this (??), wearing pijamas. He was asking this young girl sitting in front of me where she was going and why. And she SO did not want to be talking to this man. He was obnoxious (just like his fake name). One of the airline workers came to tell us that the pilot was late. Herbert went nutso. Seriously, NUTSO! “OH bleep, he better not be drunk. These pilots go out the night before an early flight and they arrive to take us in the air and bleep if there not flying with a severe hang over. I’m going to change flights. Do you want to come to the counter with me, change flights too. Your boyfriend that you’re on your way to visit, he would want you to change flights too so that you’d be safe, away from the hung over pilot who is later. And what about you miss texter (that was me), do you want to change your flight with me?”
The pilot was 3 minutes late. And let me add that this was at 5:30 a.m. (no sleeping in today either). What kind of idiot was Herbert?! I was reminded that it takes all kinds. All kinds to make up this world.
I WANT YOU TO THINK ABOUT HOW ALL THIS MAKES YOU MORE SIGNIFICANT, NOT LESS. A BODY ISN’T JUST A SINGLE PART BLOWN UP INTO SOMETHING HUGE. IT’S ALL THE DIFFERENT-BUT-SIMILAR PARTS ARRANGED AND FUNCTIONING TOGETHER.
(1 CORINTHIANS 12:14)
I don’t believe I found Herberts function in those long10 minutes in the airport waiting lounge. But I was reminded of a saying we’d say at work whenever dealing with difficult people (yes it happens even at church, but you can use it wherever) “More Grace Required.” Some people darn well don’t deserve it, especially in my eyes, but they get it in God’s eyes,every time.
dislaimer: If you’re reading this and I used to work with you, don’t question yourself, it’ll make you go crazy. This isn’t about you, it’s about what I could have done differently and what I can do in the future. To be completely honest, I blame a little bit of my ministry burnout on those people that had me repeating in my head, “MGR.” So many things I could have done differently, but the biggest difference is that instead of just saying “More grace required,” actually having more grace.
My next test of patience came in the Philadelphia airport as my flight was delayed, 3 HOURS!! Airports are the best places to people watch. I used to play this game with Tim where we’d name someone and tell their lifestory with one another. The game wasn’t nearly as fun doing by myself. But in still playing, this is what I found. Urgency. That was me yesterday. People had to get to Minneapolis, NOW! The girl next to me, was angry, I mean really angry. Like if she were any angry bird, she would have aimed for the airline worker on the loud speaker that kept informing us of a longer delay. And the man across from me…I swear I heard “What the f— is taking so long? Let’s get this f—— thing going!” seventeen times (I started counting after three). And me, I kept telling myself, “Patience,” “More grace required.” I got up and went walking..that’s when I found heaven on earth.
When I finally arrived in Minnesota, I was greeted with what I call, “the midwest check.” If you’re from here, you know exactly what I mean. Jenny C said it was people wearing flannel shirts and hoodies. I say it’s the “OOOhs,” “You betcha’s” and the questions from complete strangers that have a genuine interest in you. For example, my car rental dude (I wish I got his name):
Car rental dude: “So where are you headed?”
Me: “ALL over! I’m visiting friends in Hugo, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma…”
Car rental dude: “What a great adventure! You’re young, do it…you’ll have a blast!”
Me: “Yup, I quit my job, packed my stuff, and came back to my roots! My life’s an open road now, no idea where I’m going (figuratively)… but I’ll have lots of time to think and process.”
Car rental dude: “You’re an ambitious one, Ms. Paullin. My prayers will go with you and that you’ll get what you need out of this really neat adventure. May I make a suggestion?”
Car rental dude: “You’re going to be driving a lot on interstates next to the semis, would you like a bigger car?”
so I cotemplated the need. Neil said Jenny got stuck in a ditch today. I am in the midwest in the middle of winter (yes, even though it’s March). I’m more comfortable driving larger vehicles…
Car rental dude: “Let me give you gold.”
Here’s what he meant:
I grabbed the keys, threw in my pink bag and headed to my first stop, the Craigans.
There’s a sense of realness when I am with them. Honestly in the most kind-hearted and well intended way. There is wisdom and lots and lots of laughter–the squeaky kind. I like being with them, and I love them!
I sat for hours with Jenny and Neil and our glasses of red wine talking about ministry, about my burn out, my resignation, about what’s next and if I’ve made the right decision. I talked about my concerns with the church. And understanding ministry, understanding CPC, they spoke loudly, and so clearly through their ministry experiences, pre-CPC, CPC, and post-CPC. They spoke like lightening from the Lord.
There are things Neil said that I have stored in my heart:
- It was clearly time for you. But how many people can walk away from a job saying “I changed a life.”? I know you did, because I see it whenever I look at my daughter. If anything, you can walk away knowing you changed at least one life.
- You’ll find out what you need to soon. You have two months before you need something and you’re open to God. He’ll speak. Your call may still be in ministry, you just have to wait. patience.
- I missed his prayers! We sat around the dinner table and I had my head down with tears. Lord, speak to her and guide her to what’s ahead. Okay, so it wasn’t anything overly profound, but I’m feeling support. I’m feeling love. And I’m feeling that this was the best decision I ever could have made.
I wish I could have bottled up our “golden” converstation so I can pull it out whenever I start to question again. But I feel like I had so many things answered, like I had a different understanding of maybe why I’d been feeling the way I had. That it wasn’t all in my head.
But my head is still spinning, in the great words of Tina Turner “big wheel keep on turning.” Tomorrow I get to hear Neil preach, no doubt through his mouth come words from the Spirit. And it’s communion Sunday. Do any of you CPC readers remember how he would pour the “blood”? It’s a real image of how Christ poured out His life for us. I’m ready to worship, to really worship like I haven’t in a long, LONG time. What better way to do it that through the guidance of a pastor who has meant so much to me. I’m anxious, I’m open, I’m right where God wants me.
THE REVELATION OF GOD IS WHOLE AND PULLS OUR LIVES TOGETHER.
THE SIGNPOSTS OF GOD ARE CLEAR AND POINT OUT THE RIGHT ROAD.
THE LIFE-MAPS OF GOD ARE RIGHT, SHOWING THE WAY TO JOY.
THE DIRECTIONS OF GOD ARE PLAIN AND EASY ON THE EYES.
GOD’S REPUTATION IS TWENTY-FOUR-CARAT GOLD, WITH A LIFETIME GUARANTEE.
THE DECISIONS OF GOD ARE ACCURATE DOWN TO THE NTH DEGREE.
PSALM 19:7-9 (THE MESSAGE)
I want to end this novel-ette (I promise they won’t all be this long!) with this:
I walked upstairs to go to bed and this is what I found.
Sometimes in ministry I wasn’t patient enough to wait (actually that seems like my life more often than not). I wanted to see fruit, I wanted to know in the present time that the future was already impacted. But what I’m coming to find out is that maybe it just wasn’t God’s timing. You may respond, “duh!” appropriately so. Maybe the patience hasn’t been with myself or for other people. Maybe this whole time it’s been about patience with God, tolerance to wait upon His will.
Coming here and seeing this plaque would have meant nothing to me five months ago in comparison to what it feels like today; this is a life changed (because of me). Today, it felt like gold. The Craigans, their friendship, gave me gold. And like Craigan said, “If anything,I’ve walked away knowing I changed at least one life.” To me, that was worth 4 years, 1 month, and 27 days. That was worth gold.