Following your heart for ultimate freedom
Someone asked me not too long ago how I came to do what I do … meaning specifically, I assumed, serve as a pastor in ministry.
It’s a good question. And I have a pretty boring answer: it just felt right. At the age of 6, I served as an acolyte (the kid who lights the candles) and at 16 I served as an Elder (Presbyterian lingo for church officer). Seminaries were accepting women students (this was four decades ago), so I became one. Female graduates were being ordained, so that happened to me too.
Not very glamorous. No kicking and screaming. No divine hand pulling me from the muck and muddle of destruction. I loved God. I loved the church. I loved living for God through the church. Still do.
After a little more thinking — of which I do a lot, I realized it’s a great question for everyone. How does anyone come to do what he or she does? And not just to earn a wage, support a family, stay off the streets. Make the choices, live the life he or she does.
How does anyone come to be who he or she is? Because who we are shapes what and how we do what we do.
Obviously, I grew up in a family that participated in church and practiced the faith. I also grew up in a family that never talked about politics and that farmed a patch of the back yard in order to harvest fresh vegetables.
We loved sports and played sports in the remaining part of the back yard and on school teams and in church leagues. And we loved each other with gracious space and tenacious faith.
And while there were expectations, there was also freedom. Freedom to make friends and to make choices. Freedom to make mistakes and to make amends.
We didn’t have to embrace a certain career path or marry a certain person by a certain age. We could explore and soar. And so I did. I had hoped to become a nurse like my mother’s oldest sister; I fainted the first time I saw blood and determined that might be an issue.
Well, I have a touch of artist in me; I dreamed of a career designing greeting cards for Hallmark. And I have a boatload of music in me; I imagined sitting on an organ and piano bench contributing to worship services. And I have more than a smidge of a writer in me; I wondered about publishing some of my scribblings and teaching others to scribble their own. I earned money as a babysitter, a Pizza Hut waitress, a paralegal. But in freedom and with God’s grace I became an ordained minister.
But I also had the luxury of having parents who worked and worked hard. And stayed together. And wanted to do right by their children.
How does anyone come to do what he or she does? People influence us. Experiences shape us. But at the end of the day and the end of a life it’s seen most clearly in what we give our heart to. And that is the ultimate freedom of every human being.
The Rev. Rebecca Taylor is pastor at First Presbyterian Church. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org