This post has little to do with our travels abroad. And at the same time, this post has everything to do with being abroad.
As some of you know, and some of you may not know, this past week on Ash Wednesday marked year 3 of my first go around in the “Draft” (the first step in the assignment process where you find out which region you will hopefully be fulfilling your first call as an ordained minister in the ELCA). Ash Wednesday three years ago was one of the happiest days of my life. I handed in my paperwork with some preferences of where I would desire to be placed, but I went into it with a completely open heart. I truly believed that the Holy Spirit had a place for me and it didn’t really matter where it was as long as it was a good match. On that day, with the possibility of being sent anywhere in the USA for my first call, I found out that I was assigned to my first choice. I was going to be a pastor in Region 1. A week or so later during one of my classes, I found out that it was going to be Northwest Washington Synod. I was over the moon. I was overflowing with excitement and joy. It felt like all the pieces had fallen into place and my gifts were going to meet up with a culture that understood me. Cloud 9.
Then the next three years happened. I’m not saying that every facet of my life was awful for that time period. I dated and married my husband, I made and maintained many other relationships through the jobs I took on to make the ends meet in the wilderness. I got the opportunity to be a part of a Graduate Preaching Fellowship, even though it was not my own. Don’t get me wrong, good things happened. But I also had to give up promotions in my jobs, give up potentials for other career opportunities, and put off expeditions I had been planning all because I was hoping and relying on the fact that I was going to get a call to be a pastor at any moment. These past few days have been a roller coaster in my call that I don’t remember getting onto.
The moment didn’t come.
I made the choice with Will to take a year away from the process and enter the assignment again this February with him as one half of a clergy couple. Once again the date of assignment fell on Ash Wednesday for those in the States. Because we are 8 hours ahead, we were not to receive the email of destiny until Thursday morning when we woke up.
So, Thursday morning came and we woke up. We opened up my email and found an email that was not from someone we had expected. The email was from the churchwide office telling us that we were not assigned….to any region….at all.
Imagine our surprise!
This is a turn of events that not even I, in my vast experience of being let down by the system, had seen coming. I didn’t know it was even an option to fill out your paperwork for assignment and be told that in fact you were rejected from that process. We’re not sure what happens now, but it looks like it is going to be a bit more time in the wilderness for me/us.
At least this time I have a partner in crime and crying. That makes the wandering a bit more bearable, I have to admit. Though my own wounds are torn open again, having a wonderful companion to share the pain and agony in the journey and even to know first hand what this feels like is helpful. I only wish that it were not also happening to him. I so wanted his experience to be different than mine has been.
Prayers are welcome. This road looks like it may continue to be long and harrowing.