On Not Being Chosen

GenevaI just interviewed for what would have been my dream job, once upon a time. I might have become pastor at a congregation in Geneva, Switzerland where the trains run on time, the view is either tall mountains or deep lake, the chocolate is plentiful and the lifestyle inviting. And did I mention there was chocolate? It would have meant my girls could have what I dearly want to give them – opportunity to live in a different culture and learn another language. Next to my own parents’ love, this is the gift they gave me (several times!) that I most treasure. I applied mostly because a friend in the congregation invited me to. I kept making the cut until I was in the top two and was asked to come in person for several days. As I have gotten every job I have ever interviewed for, I went assuming the position was mine to decide.

A funny thing happened on the way to moving to Switzerland. The congregation voted to call the other candidate. And after I got over the ego bruise at not being chosen, I realized that this was the right decision, not only for the congregation and the other candidate, but also for me. I probably would have taken the call, if offered, because when will an opportunity like this come up again? I’ve always erred on the side of the new opportunity and having an adventure. My jobs have always come to me. That’s my MO. But doing so would have meant overruling some nagging doubts. Is this really the best thing for my children, especially one with whom we are just getting to address learning and behavioral issues? Is this the best thing for me, to leave the advocacy work that gives me so much meaning, just when I’m getting good at it? And face it, Geneva may be cool but the actual work is more tending to the internal congregation and less about addressing the society and working for change that I enjoy the most about being a pastor.

Ten years ago this may have been my dream. But now, when I know I probably have one more good call in me (plus a good call here I’m not ready to end yet), I want to be a lot more picky in what I do next. At 51, time is limited and the choices become more real. It certainly helps when God shuts the door for me. The sound of that slam is simultaneously a recommitment to what I am and do now. Which is a pretty big blessing. And when its time for a change, who knows, maybe this time I’ll go out and find it instead of it coming to me.

And – BONUS – I get to stay in the relationships here that I felt so conflicted about leaving. Quilting group with friends of 25 years, treasured colleagues at work, summers at Camp du Nord and our lake house, quick trips to see my Mom every few weeks instead of once per year. I still feel some disappointment at not packing up and moving to Europe, but I also feel tremendous relief at staying put, even if that means staying in Harrisburg of all places. Who knew coming in second could feel so right? Plus, a bar of Toblerone is cheaper at the Target checkout than you can get it there.

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One response to “On Not Being Chosen

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this great reflection, Amy. I especially love your line, “at 51, time is limited and the choices become more real.” I think beauty is “blooming within limits and brokenness”–and isn’t that what our ministry is?

    This past summer Laura & I were thinking of you and your DDR adventure years ago as we traipsed around Leipzig (base-camp for Luther stuff) and Geneva (researching an ICF satellite and studying John Calvin). Despite loving my current call hugely, I too found myself daydreaming of pastoring again or, better yet, of church-planting overseas. But I heard God’s whisper, too, reminding me that our call as parents gives us specific boundaries, as well. So we’ll forgo an exotic new adventures, and joyful about serving Christ in Kansas City for years to come. But most of all, we realized we needed to help our sons bloom where we re-planted them 10 years ago. God’s peace, Amy; the Holy Spirit clearly is blowing in your life.

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