Stevie Nicks' Edge of Seventeen came out the year I turned 17...the year I graduated from high school and started on my muddled path to becoming who I am today.
Here are a couple pics from the day...before and after I got my hair chopped off (and permed.)
Hard to believe that was thirty years ago!!
"Oh I went searchin' for an answer...At the age of 17, I didn't know what I was searching for, what call I was listening for. I was adrift in a sea of uncertainty and low self esteem, with no clue what I wanted to be when I grew up, and no sense of what I might be capable of. A typical teenager, in many ways, I suppose. I went to university, got a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in pyschology...mostly because getting a university degree seemed to be the thing to do, and so I got one.
Up the stairs... and down the hall
Not to find an answer...
Just to hear the call..."
I hit my twenties, drifted into a job in the accounting section of a local company for horrendously low wages...married the most wonderful man, and had the first of our two amazing daughters. In the last year of my twenties, I got a job with the Technical University of NS (TUNS), still not great money but having a pension plan was a welcome addition!
At 31, I had the second of our two amazing daughters. A couple years later, the provincial government decided to mandate a takeover of TUNS by Dalhousie University. (Ok, they called it a mutually decided upon merger, but that was generally accepted to be a takeover.) TUNS employees got the short end of the stick...Dal staff all had more seniority, so we were left with the lower level positions. I said no thanks, and got a job as a property accountant for a medium sized family owned real estate & development company...soon I was promoted to senior corporate accountant...then to manager of the accounting department. It was a great experience in many ways, I gained confidence and knowledge, and learned a ton of useful skills, such as doing presentations, managing staff, writing reports, dealing with difficult people, and so on. But it never felt meaningful...seemed that all I was doing with my life was helping a handful of private citizens earn a profit. The family who owned the business was great to me, in some ways I became an extended member, being present for engagements and weddings, etc. But still...my soul was restless to be doing something meaningful with my life. But what??
At 39, I applied for a position with the Province of NS, and to my surprise, I got it! I thought working in public service would surely feel more rewarding than private industry. And it did (and does), but not nearly as much as I thought. Perhaps because I still dislike accounting every bit as much as I had in private industry!!
I had started attending church in my mid to late-thirties, and found myself feeling drawn deeper and deeper into the life of the church. Early on, I agreed to be central treasurer. Unfortunately, that meant accounting was now invading my place of joy and refuge. Still...I felt good about being able to help in some way. Happily I found other ways to be involved which fed my soul instead of draining it! Things like reading scripture on Sunday mornings, joining choir, getting involved in an annual Conference level program for young teens, joining study groups, having conversations with my (then) minister about faith and prayer and God, sharing faith stories with friends at work. And I started writing about my faith journey and sharing my spiritual thoughts in my blog.
I began to hear the voice of God calling me to be so much more than I ever thought I could be...at first I did a lot of pushing God away, and making up excuses why I couldn't answer...but I felt really drawn to being in ministry full time, so I poked around on the United Church and AST websites to learn just how one goes about becoming ordained...but kept retreating back behind my inadequacies and fears...telling myself that surely if I was minister material, my close friend, who is herself a minister, would have recognized it and encouraged me to explore the possibility.But she never mentioned it...and I felt too awkward bring up the subject myself. (When I finally did talk to her about it, I discovered that she is as overjoyed and certain as I am that ministry is where I am called to be, and had been watching me moving in that direction and waiting to see if I felt it too. It was painful thinking she didn't believe in me...on the other hand, I know it is probably for the best that she didn't say anything until I brought it up myself because then I might have questioned whether it was God calling or simply the power of suggestion.) In any case, I am grateful to another friend for asking flat out if I have ever considered being a minister...I needed that act of responding out loud "Actually yes, I have" in order to let this incredible and scary possibility slip from my heart and out into the world.
And now that I have answered God's call, I wonder what took me so long. I can't wait to begin my MDiv in September (feeling quite sure my Discernment Committee will recommend me as a Candidate for Ministry.) My soul is filled with longing to be out in the world with my light shine as brightly as it possibly can. To borrow some language from our Song of Faith: I want to be God's good news lived out, to continue the story of Jesus by embodying Christ's presence in the world, to be a doer of the word and not a hearer only.
I am now on the edge of 47, not 17...I believe that God has always been calling, it just took me a lot of years, and a lot of life lived, to recognize and embrace that which has always been whispering in my ear...singing in my heart...swirling through the deepest core of my being, Spirit enfolding spirit. Jesus said come, follow me. And I will...because you're never to old to discover what you are meant to be when you grow up!
What an amazing gift it is, this call to ministry...