Becoming a convert to the Mennonite church has taught me a new meaning for being a servant and what servanthood consists of. As an enthusiastic new member I felt the high of having encountered the Holy Spirit in an entirely new way. I was more than willing to buckle in for the ride. The people pleaser in me loved this new idea, that in serving the church, the church family, and anyone that came into my path was a way to serve God, while igniting the Catholic remnants in me that believed that I needed to earn graces and my place in heaven. No opportunity to serve was too big or too small and the word “no” disappeared from my vocabulary.
It started with a small ministry of love. Taking a very dear gentleman to church for the last couple of years of his life. I felt great joy and privilege in doing this, and felt incredibly blessed by the church family I gained.
The combination of an energetic new pastor with an exciting vision for revitalizing worship and my desire for people to like me proved to much for me to resist and I became an overachieving servant in our small congregation. Committees, special events, babysitting, pet sitting, programs, delegations, party helping, I said yes to everything and the compliments and attention came rolling in. I felt like I was making a difference and fulfilling a call. My gifts for organization were truly put to the test as I quickly became the go-to girl. I had to be racking up some major grace points with the man upstairs, and I just knew that he was going to lead me to a better place in my life.
Life became a little more full, but no real changes in my circumstances occurred, but I was convinced I just needed to keep being a faithful servant with boundless energy. Continue taking on new ministries, continue seeking new calls. I wanted great things, so God probably was expecting great things from me. It seemed little things were starting to improve in my professional life, and I gave all the credit and glory to my heavenly father.
Then change happened. Our congregation said good-bye to the pastor and his family and wished them well in their new calling and we prepared to receive another pastor with new visions for worship of his own. Now I am finding that I am a relic of the old vision that can’t quite seem to find my place in the new vision.
Additionally I have been such a normal part of worship services and events that I have started to blend in with the wallpaper. Since wallpaper blends in the people pleaser in me isn’t feeling quite as joyful. The good news is I understand this is a fault I possess that I need to pray on and keep conscious of. I am slowly become more choosy about what new tasks I take on or what projects I become involved in. I am pursuing new things in this writing arena, which is causing me to stop and listen, and reflect on myself, my feelings, and the road that I am on. I am evaluating my commitments at church and at work.
All this reflection has me realizing that I am a worship leading hypocrite. I am telling people to trust in a God who loves them and blesses them, but at the same time I am angry and doubting him. Angry because I am still living in the same small space that I hate, trying to get ahead in a world that has sky rocketing costs for food and fuel with pay increases that don’t even begin to keep up. Angry because I feel stuck in a job, but feel unable to move on because I lack the piece of paper from a college or university that says I understand my job, despite my years of experience and the fact that I have way too much student loan debt that I have no idea how I am ever going to repay it all. Angry because I just can’t seem to get to the place financially where it is possible for us to get a cozy little house of our own.
In the midst of all of this anger it dawns on me that I am using all of these serving opportunities as bargaining chips with God. Since I am doing this for your flock, can you make that happen for me? I am overwhelming myself with commitments, that has to count for something right?
God never promised me that he would trade with me. He did promise he would love me unconditionally and that he will never forsake me and that he will help me with my human fralities if I ask him to. He also has great plans for me, and he is taking care of me. I just need to stop and take the time to reflect on my blessings:
- I have a husband who loves me, and has managed to survive my craziness for almost two decades
- I have a healthy son who is incredibly creative, loving, and funny
- We have a roof over our heads that keeps us warm and dry, even if it isn’t the type of roof I want
- My husband and I are both employed
- We have reliable vehicles to get us to and from those jobs
- There is plenty of food in our cupboards for me to use to cook my family nutritious meals
- Many people love and support me as I strike out on new paths and encourage me on the paths I am still traveling
- He is providing me with the tools I need to sort out what ministries I will be continuing on with and which ones it is time for me to let go of
I am still struggling with identifying what I need to give up in ministry and what new roads I need to go down, but I have faith that he will see me through these dark periods of frustration and that I will come out alright in the end. After all, if God is for me, who can be against me (Romans 8:31)?