Change’ll do me good

Driving home from work tonight, this thought: “I need to be living closer to my heart.” Usually when I don’t know where a thought comes from, I do know Who it came from … yeah. This felt like one of those. A God-o-gram flying in on its own wing and a prayer.

Rough day at work. The topic in our religious studies classroom was the intersection of war and terrorism with religion. (Yeah, cover that in one class. Pssh.) Once again I felt the distance between what I’m teaching and how, and what I want to be teaching — or better yet, preaching and pastoring — my way into.

There are places where who we are makes sense. Places of coherence, fit, utility, purpose, passion. And there are places where — as hard as we plan, work, try — we just don’t fit. Sometimes we are not allowed to fit; like those churches that would never let my gay foot in the door, much less behind the pulpit. Sometimes we just don’t fit; like me in this classroom. I can’t like studying religion, or teaching others to study it. I want the doing: the religare at the root of religion, the binding of soul to soul in the work of love.

Those moments come; the minutes by the bedside of a dying friend, who rouses at the sound of my voice and lifts her arms for a tender embrace; the prayers that run through me — as Rilke puts it — like deer through a dark forest; the compassion that settles in behind my heart when conflicts flare, setting up a steady beat for the dance toward what matters most.

Enough, then. Enough of what doesn’t fit. I need to live closer to my heart.

In this my fiftieth year, the year of no excuses, I am doing all I can to commit to my future. I am resigning from works that don’t fulfill, or that don’t need me in particular. I am letting go of what doesn’t fit. I am saying yes to a path that gives me a license to love again with my whole heart, even though it feels like stepping back to the drawing board.

I care less about that than I once did. There was a time not too long ago when going from an M.Div. to a Ph.D. to a CPE internship felt like too big a step back. It may be backwards; it may be sideways; then again, it may just be the sign the universe is waiting for to know that I am serious about this loving business. I will do what it takes to find a place I can live closer to my heart.

Here is the great comfort in the middle of all this not-knowing: every time I look up and wonder or ask, “Are you there?” the answer is yes. Like a toddler at full tilt who suddenly stops running and looks around, calling “MommmMM??” and hears the “Yeeeessss” come wafting back, grace wells up whenever I wait upon it, letting the open place in my heart draw from that endless supply.

Pretty soon I’ll stop putting my foot in this particular slipper; this semester will end, with some students happy and some not, some having learned something and some not. I will have given it a full measure and I will move on.

This summer’s internship will be hard in a different way; I’ll be one of the pages in the book to be studied. I have no idea what the summer holds, what will bubble up out of the pot of my soul. But I do believe I will be a better person, better equipped to love and more practiced at loving. I think I will see more clearly, and be more of who God created me to be.

And I think, come August, I will be living closer to my heart. Thanks be to God, the change’ll do me good.

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4 Responses to Change’ll do me good

  1. jharader says:

    A beautiful post. Many blessings on your transition. About five years ago I made a conscious choice to leave academia to become a pastor. No regrets.

    • tam121 says:

      Thank you. I was pastoring before the sojourn in the academy, and hope to pastor again. That’s the place where it first occurred to me the job came with the license to love. If I’d been in a denomination that would have let me pastor as a gay person, I never would have left. But God is faithful, and the road brings blessings wherever it goes … No regrets, indeed!

  2. Shugie says:

    Rev, I love the “God-o-gram”! hahaha, I’ve had a few of my own! Your message, as always, resonates within me. For, as you know, “I (too) am doing all I can to commit to my future. I am resigning from works that don’t fulfill, or that don’t need me in particular. I am letting go of what doesn’t fit. I am saying yes to a path that gives me a license to love again with my whole heart”.
    Thank you for your writings and your words of honesty, love and kindness.
    Hold fast to your truths and convictions and bless you in this wonderful year of great transitions!
    Shugie xo

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