In my younger years, I was the first type of perfectionist: the type who puts off a project until the very last minute and relies on the adrenaline-infused push of an impending deadline to get the job done. I would wait as long as possible to begin, and I would tell myself it was because I was enjoying my life to the fullest.
The problem was, the project I was procrastinating on was always still there in the back of my mind. I wasn’t really out there enjoying life. I was hiding from the project in fear because deep inside I was afraid that once I turned it in, everyone would figure out the truth about me. The truth that I wasn’t smart. The truth that I wasn’t perfect.
My junior year of college, when I left behind my music major and entered the world of communications, I found myself so happy in my new field that I started working ahead. I got a head start on my projects. I read extra books. I did the extra credit.
At first, I thought it was because I had overcome my procrastinator tendencies, but reflecting back on it I think I had switched to the second type of perfectionist: the type who works extra hard on a project out of fear. Fear that others would realize I wasn’t perfect. Fear that I would be discovered for the impostor I was afraid I was.
As a recovering perfectionist and people pleaser, I have discovered a secret about myself: I have spent much of my life driven by the fear of failing, or at the very least the fear of being perceived as a failure by others.
Seemingly paradoxically, I have also discovered that I was not only afraid of failing, I was also afraid of succeeding.
And what happens to someone who is both afraid to fail and afraid to succeed? She never leaves home and doesn’t take risks.
Somehow, in spite of my best efforts to the contrary, I have found myself growing. I have started to shed my “reluctant trailblazer” status and have begun to embrace the path that God has called me to travel. It only took me a decade of pastoral ministry to admit that preaching gave me life. It wasn’t a calling I had to shoulder reluctantly, but a calling to be celebrated – with sandals removed, of course.
Even though I had promised myself I would not become a female pastor who spent most of her time talking about women in ministry, I recently authored a four-session Bible Study on the beautiful vision God has for men and women to build God’s Church together. And it is one of the most humbling and breathtaking things I have ever been asked to do.
What I have learned over the last years of ministry is that we can embrace God’s calling reluctantly, or we can embrace it with celebration. The calling doesn’t change, but we deprive ourselves of the joy that accompanies it when we take it on as a burden rather than a blessing.
In my perfectly imperfect life, I share my journey with Jeff – my husband and my co-pastoring partner. I am a mom of two unique kids who infuse my life with creativity and fun nearly every day, and I am the owner of a dog who loves to sit on my hands when I work too much. I am a baker of bread, a fermenter of yogurt, a reader of books, and a crocheter of most things yarn. In the summer months, I am a gardener, and in the winter months I dream of planting seeds. When the weather is active, I can be found outside – both terrified of the power the storm, and trying to capture its majesty with my camera.
I have chosen to call this little place of mine “At the Table” because some of the very best things happen around tables. We gather around tables to share with each other. We spill tears over math homework, and weep together over tea. We bring paper and watercolors to the table and ask ourselves what might be possible. Tables are bridges, community, creativity, and conversation. Tables are where we check in with each other and see each other face to face.
At the Table I take a moment to savor the places and moments where I have caught glimpses of God.
At the Table I share reflections on the simple things that become sacramental, like the way the Hope candle burns the longest every Advent.
At the Table I occasionally share resources for bringing to life the stories of the Bible and liturgical traditions of the church, like using invisible ink to teach about the Transfiguration, or re-imagining the Advent wreath by considering each theme’s opposite.
At the Table I share my own stories in the hopes that you will also share yours, because that’s one of the most beautiful things about tables — the way they bring stories together, the way they bring people together.
I am active on Facebook and Twitter, though I hate to think of these places as platforms. These are like extra leaves in my table – more room for all of us to pull up a chair and have a good conversation. I hope you will join in.