Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Entering the Discernment Process

Tonight was the first official session of my discernment process for Holy Orders (ordained ministry). It's been a long time coming, and the painful experiences which had dissuaded me from it a long time back have helped me to grow as a person and as a Christian.

Below are some thoughts that occurred during and after the meeting, take from them what suits you: 

  • Tonight was the process of sharing spiritual autobiographies. If you compare autobiographies, mine seems awfully unimpressive. My delivery of that autobiography was also rather sub-par tonight.  That fear of being judged less-worthy (or even worthless) popped up in full strength. Comparison is a dangerous thing. Comparison works well for buying the better of two apples; however, comparing between our personal faith against that of another person is a quick way to extinguish the gifts of the Holy Spirit present in all our lives. Heaven knows that seeing myself as less (less attractive, less intelligent, less spiritual, less gifted, less everything) has worked to diminish God's gifts to me. We humans see ourselves always on a continuum, a sliding scale of more versus less. Some have more, some have less. God really doesn't work in sliding scales, though. Even Moses who considered himself a horrible speaker said a lot more of value than eloquent false prophets.
  • Seriously, a great metaphor for the work of the Holy Spirit is soda pop. The carbon dioxide represents the Spirit, we the flavored water. The carbon dioxide infuses the water, remains in it under pressure, but always flows outwardly. That water, however, is changed; it is not just water but carbonic acid. So it is with us. The Spirit frequently becomes most infused in us with careful attention, prayer, and trials, but always finds its way to spread outwards. We are thus changed by the Spirit- the Spirit takes what was before and changes it.
  • When given the opportunity and the right scenario, people are eager to share how God has worked in their lives, and it is a real beautiful thing.
  • Bagpipe players and bell choirs make two very different kinds of music, but all of it is beautiful. Bagpipes are funnier, though.
  • Faith that God is present and that God will bring good out of the dark things in life is one of the hardest lessons to truly believe. It isn't an intellectual exercise that, through mental gymnastics, you can force yourself to believe. Sometimes people with stronger faiths have to have faith on your behalf so that you can keep going on.


mary said...

I am so proud of you, love! Your post has inspired me to start working on my grad school app. (but not quite yet to bug my Conference to give me a mentor who lives in my county--because I feel like I'm being really annoying and inconvenient for moving so much)
Good luck! Also, we should chat sometime soon!

Karl Julian said...

Yes, Mary, we should.

You're going into pastoral counseling, yes? I thought that was the last I'd heard from our dearest Em'ly. Which school do you plan on attending?