When I started seminary, I listened keenly to that sense of call – and was certain God would put in my path some amazing opportunity to change the world. Imagine my surprise when what God seemed to put in my path instead was a lot of adult diapers.
You spend a lot of time in seminary learning systematic theology, Greek, Hebrew, and church history. What isn’t necessarily covered are the “holy crap, I can’t believe I’m doing this” moments. I doubt I am alone among the ranks of church workers, having a voice in my head that has sometimes screamed,
“THIS ISN’T WHAT YOU SIGNED UP TO DO!”
Some of the more colorful memories include stepping over a recently deceased body on the living room floor at 3 a.m. on Easter morning, stepping into a very full chuck pad and adult diapers, being sprayed with no fewer than five forms of bodily fluids (does spit-up breast milk count as one or two?), and stepping into various piles of manure from horse, cow, bat, cat, mouse, dog, and goat while wearing heels.
Does anyone else sense a theme? Please consider a gift card to the shoe store for the clergy in your life.
When I’ve been asked over dinner how work went, my family understands if I put up my hands and say, “Don’t ask.” But you know what? The funny thing is, I don’t know that I would change any of it – except my shoes.
Though some ministry experiences have been nothing short of bizarre, there lives in me a profound sense of gratitude that I am allowed into people’s lives at the most vulnerable moments of joy and pain.
I have held in my arms babies born that never took a breath and cried with their parents as I instinctively started rocking back and forth. I have cried again a couple years later when another baby was born joyously screaming at the top of his lungs.
I have had the privilege of gathering around the dying for a final blessing with family and have been present for more last breaths than I can remember, amazed every single time how you can be here one moment and gone the next.
I have had the honor to be the last person to see the face of a loved one as the top of the casket is closed and trusted to say a few words that claim life even in the midst of death.
I have gotten down on my hands and knees in a skirt with my backside in the air to scoop a fat toad out of the hole dug for an urn so that the sound of laughter marked the final goodbye of a man who loved a good joke.
I have celebrated with friends and strangers at births, adoptions, baptisms, confirmations, graduations, weddings, retirements, and everything in between. I can list in order which bakeries in three counties make the best sheet cakes.
The vault of my mind is filled with confessions and secrets that I will take to my grave. It is both an honor and a weight to carry the profound secrets of others, and I am thankful for the trust placed in me.
Is there a better job? I am no one special, yet here I am, being called into the most profound moments of people’s lives and welcomed into their homes.
Just make sure I take my shoes off at your door.