I have travelled a rather long, hard road to get here, but I can honestly say that I am now the most authentically me I’ve ever been. That’s why now was the right time for me to get ordained. As I’ve said before, it is a Call I have felt for a very long time, but if I am to be of service to anyone else, I first needed to get a handle on what it really means to be me. Now here I am, fully myself, living the Truth, and hurling it against the World when necessary. But how can I be of service to any of you as a minister?
A very dear Pastor friend of mine lived his ministry through the following passage, which he composed based off of John 13:34-35, Romans 15:1-7, and Colossians 1:24-29. It provides a beautiful pattern for how I wish to live my ministry:
I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. Because I am strong in the faith, I step in and lend a hand to those who falter. I don’t just do what is most convenient for me: Strength is for service, not status. I look after the good of the people around me, asking: “How can I help?” I reach out and welcome others to God’s glory, as did Christ. Like Jesus, I stay true to God’s purposes. There’s a lot of suffering to be entered into in this world—the kind of suffering Christ takes on. I welcome the chance to take my share in the church’s part of that suffering. When I became a servant of this church, I took on that suffering as a sheer gift, God’s way of helping me serve you, laying out the whole truth. I preach Christ, adding nothing to His Message. I teach in a spirit of profound common sense, so that I can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.
I want those I serve to know me, and I genuinely want to know them. I may occasionally come off as a “mouthy Southern gal with way too much education for my own good”, but please know: that’s genuinely who I am! I am a Southern woman, but that doesn’t mean what some people think it means: I’m not racist, I’m not Republican, and I see no color, gender, or any other cultural or religious bias. People are simply that: people. And I am connected to each and every person, just as they are connected to me. I probably do have way too much education for my own good, not just from my experiences at college which gave me my degree in Creative Writing, but also from a lifetime of steadily wanting to constantly learn more about everything that stirs my passion. That doesn’t make me aloof; that doesn’t lead me to think “I’m smarter than you, therefore, you are not worthy of my time or energy”. My “mountains of knowledge” are also here for service; I learned so much stuff so that I could share it with all of you! Again, I am connected to each and every person, just as they are connected to me, and that’s why I want to genuinely get to know the people I serve. How can I serve you properly if everything I know about you is based on labels and assumptions? That’s not truly knowing anybody! No, I want to hear your heart, and I want to know what’s truly on your mind. Until I know that, I’m not worth a cent to you as a minister.
Deity knows me, and I have worked very hard to get to know Deity. I love my Jesus, and I love my God and Goddess. Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, you can have it both ways. I am a Catholic-Pagan. I am a Christian Druid. In the words of the Welsh Bard Iolo Morganwg, “Christ, Mo Drui”; “Christ is my Druid”. Druids aren’t just crazy people who climb trees for mistletoe and dance around in circles wearing white on the Summer Solstice, as they are too-oft-depicted in the popular media. Druids are teachers, priests, and poets, and so is Jesus Christ. God is bigger than all of us combined, and is everywhere and in all things, binding everything together, and keeping things alive, just like The Force in Star Wars. He has many faces, and He wears many names: Yahweh, Jehovah, Cernunnos, Gwynn Ap Nudd, Allah, Brahman, Vishnu, Shiva. Goddess is the Holy Spirit in its truest and most ancient form (as the Jewish Sophia). She moves throughout all cultures and history, and like God, She is bigger than all of us combined, is everywhere and in all things, and has many faces and wears many names: Mary Theotokos (Mother of the Word; the Mother of Christ; the Virgin Mary), Sophia, Cerridwen, The Morrigu, Rhiannon, Isis (Aset), Sekhmet, Bastet, Lakshmi, Durga, Parvati, Sarasvati, Kali-Ma. Much of the “way too much education for my own good” that makes me me has been spent in a tireless study of comparative mythology and comparative religion in an effort to know Deity as deeply as I possibly can. We are all born with Deity knowing us, just as any parent knows their child from the moment they are born, but just as children must work over the course of their lives to actually get to know their parent, so, too, must we work very hard to come to deeply know Deity.
I am willing to “backburner” my needs for the sake of the needs of others. Not gonna lie: of late, I have a rather intense work schedule (and I’m loving every minute of it)! But when it comes to someone who genuinely needs me, everything goes on hold except my (heart-adopted) kids. Being a minister means being willing to “backburner” my own needs for the sake of the needs of others, and I take that very, very seriously. If you are genuinely in need and you come to me with your troubles, you are not whining, you are not bothering me with a rant; you are expressing your very real pain and your very genuine need, and I promise you: I will do what I can do to try to make things better! That may just mean giving you my time by showing you compassion, and providing an ear that’s actually willing to listen, but rest assured: I will listen, and when I can, I will counsel.
I know the things I know–I have educated myself to this level–precisely so that my faith will be strong enough to share it with you. I will do my best to pick you up when you are down; I have enough faith to go around! Hopefully, I also have enough knowledge about matters of faith to help you work to increase yours.
I don’t just do what is most convenient for me: Strength is for service, not status. I do not wear my title as minister like a crown on my head, nor do I wave my credentials around merely as an attention-getting device, or as a means of “lording” my position over anyone else. I got ordained precisely so that I could better use the strengths that I possess–knowledge, a compassionate heart, my time and talent–to better serve you and people like you. Working with and talking to other people is often highly uncomfortable for me; I am a recovered agoraphobic. Often, serving as a minister is anything but convenient for me, but guess what? It was also often highly inconvenient for Christ, and He is my Master. I serve you so that I can serve Him.
When I say “I’m here to help; I’m at your service”, I actually mean it. Those aren’t just “pretty words” that I’m saying to “be nice”. They also aren’t just “nice things” I’m saying in an effort to get you to spend your money with me. Being a Professional Tarot Reader, Writer, and Artist is my job, and, yes, I like to have money because having money is unfortunately a matter of survival in today’s society, but I’m not going to say “I’m here to help; I’m at your service” just to get paid. Ever. If I suggest a Tarot or Oracle Reading as a means of getting the help you need and deserve, it isn’t because I’m “out for your money”; it’s because I genuinely think that will help you! Making money is just a side effect that I honestly barely even think about until I wander over to PayPal and go “hey, look, I’ve got money.” When I’m helping you, that’s my only motive: to help. Anything else is just a mutual energy exchange, wherein we wind up helping each other, which is what we’re all supposed to be doing, anyway: helping each other!
I want to welcome you into the same glorious existence that I’ve learned to have. We were all meant to live extravagantly and to live generously, and though it has taken me a very long time to figure out precisely what that means for the way I live my life, now that I have finally figured that out, I want to help everyone else learn to live that way, too! If you follow this blog regularly or if you’re friends with me on Facebook or like my Facebook page, you’ve probably already figured out by now that I legit can’t stop talking about how great this kind of life is! We are not supposed to be having to live in such a way that we are always tired, worn out, and eventually burned out on religion. We are supposed to be living freely and generously, practicing the unforced rhythms of grace, and I desperately want to teach anyone and everyone who will listen how to have that life–the life you are meant to be having!
I stay true to what is Ultimately Right. That may not always make me popular with other people, but at least I know I’m making Deity happy! My views aren’t just my personal views or my personal opinion. I wouldn’t go through the firestorms and the abuse I often have to weather on a daily basis for anything as simple and shallow as that. It simply wouldn’t be worth it! We are all connected; what happens to one person is happening to us all–to you and to me, and, ultimately, to The All (Deity). I believe that from the very core of my being. It has nothing to do with anything as simple and arguable as morality, which easily can be based on what is right for a specific side, individual, or group of people, while harming others. It has everything to do with the inalienable Truth: that we are all meant to give and receive kindness, compassion, and love, and to live spiritually free lives in which we spread light, hope, and faith instead of darkness, despair, and hate.
When there is suffering, I suffer, too. That doesn’t just apply to the people I know and love already, that applies to the suffering of all people, everywhere. If I occasionally seem “over-passionate” about a person that I don’t know or a group of people that I don’t know who are being maligned or abused in some way, it is because the fact of their pain genuinely gives me pain, too, and I know in my heart of hearts that we all should be experiencing that on the same level. It shouldn’t just be happening to me; we all need to develop that level of empathy, and I work anxiously to try to teach people that before it’s too late. If you bring your private sufferings to me and I say “I’m with you in your pain”, I’m not being trite or sentimental or “nice”; I’m being sincere. Please respect that, as it is my way of respecting you.
By becoming a minister, I have accepted such suffering as a gift, not a curse. I neither expect nor need anyone to feel sorry for me as I suffer, either from my personal maladies, my personal tragedies, nor from the shared suffering I feel with other people. Such suffering is part of what makes me who and what I am. It is how I can serve you, and serve you best. That is a gift I wouldn’t trade for anything in this world or the next.
I not only preach Christ, I preach His actual message: compassion, equality, individuality, love. If some of the things I say seem totally alien to your “typical Christian background”, it may be time to go back and re-read the New Testament, because all of this stuff is actually in there! It just so happens that what Christ taught is also what Buddha taught, and what is taught by Hindus, and in Islam, and in the Pagan Faiths, and in every other true and valuable spiritual path. The sooner people realize that, the sooner there will be less division in our world: more compassion, more equality, more individuality, more love, and less indifference, division, egoism, and hatred.
I try to speak plainly, without a whole lot of mumbo jumbo or jargon, so that everyone can learn a better way of living. There may be a little “hey y’all” in the way I deliver things, but that is there so that you can see I am genuine; that this isn’t a “bunch of crap” I’m just spouting to make myself look or feel important. If “hey y’all” doesn’t “work for you”, rest assured: as I get to know you better, I will figure out what does! I will come to you on your terms, so that you can hear and understand mine, my heart speaking to your heart, instead of just wagging my tongue.
I want to keep things simple, because they actually are. True faith is simple. It is when we attempt to make it complex that we wind up screwing up, and screwing each other up. I want to help you be the best you that you possibly can be: authentic you, the way I’ve become authentic me, and at the end of the day, authentic us is simple us. We need to get back to basic, because basic is where faith lives; it’s where hope lies; it’s where love thrives.
I am working for you, not just for me. And I will continue to work hard every day, until Deity tells me to stop. At the end of the day, it’s not about how much money I’ve made, how many books I have written, or how much art I have created: it’s all about how many people I have helped. It’s also all about whether or not I have fought to bring the Message to as many people as I can possibly reach, and whether or not I have stood up for those who cannot stand up for themselves in the name of accomplishing the Ultimate Right. I will stand up and defend my Jesus, even if it takes my dying breath, because He isn’t just my Jesus, He’s your Jesus too: whether you’re Christian, or not, whether you’re gay, straight, bisexual, transgendered, a man, a woman, a child, black, white, brown, or purple, and He doesn’t care whether you call Him that or not. He just wants the same thing we all want: for more people to be kind, generous, compassionate, loving, and spiritually free individuals.
I am generously at your service. Please, get to know me, so that I can get to know you. Let me help you find the same “safety net for life” that I’ve found. Whether you choose to call it Deity or not is up to you. It already knows you; let me help you get to know It. I will put your needs over mine whenever necessary (but not over the needs of my kids). Let’s work together to increase your faith. You are not an inconvenience, and even when you are, so what? If ministry was “convenient”, everybody would be doing it! Let me help you, and let’s help each other. Let’s dance those unforced rhythms of grace together. Let me help you learn the Truth, so that we can all work to make the world a better and brighter place. When necessary, give me the gift of suffering with you. Come learn about compassion, equality, individuality, and love. I promise I’ll speak plainly and truthfully and work hard to talk to you on your level and in ways you’ll deeply understand. We’ll keep it simple. I’m here to work for you, not just for me, and I’m willing to go that extra ten thousand miles if necessary. Because that’s what Deity put me here to do, and I’m going to do it, so let me do it for you!