I am perhaps, maybe, on the road to priesthood, and I am speaking in a tentative fashion, because this road is a process of discernment wherein I, along with others, through a series of steps, and over time, discern if there is indeed such a call on my life. Though the idea of ordained ministry has been in my heart and on my mind for quite a long time, I took my first official steps on this path in early January, at which time I told my priest that I need to officially begin this process. This move was a personal monument in my willingness to be vulnerable about this struggle, which has been intimately tied up with other issues regarding the grace of God, and my identity. Amidst this struggle what gave me the courage to step forward in this manner were two instances wherein I believe God spoke to me.
I am at church, prior to the service, praying and preparing my heart, but feeling, as I often do, that my heart is an unruly entity, and so, as I often do, I tried to analyze and find the root of this unruliness. Amidst the self talk and scrutiny I get the following word, “You are trying to press in on things that belong to me,” and immediately afterwards I have a sense of peace accompanied by the awareness that self understanding is not in my hands for there is a part of me that is beyond me, and beyond my ability to analyze.
This instance is not really an instance, as in a particular moment in time, but rather a growing awareness that I was not going to be able to find within myself the proof that I am called to the priesthood. At some point, one I do not completely remember, the image of digging around and looking for something, a piece of gold perhaps, came to me, and out of this image came the words, “You cannot by digging through your soul find the badge of your calling that you can then pull out and show to others; instead, you must discover and confirm your call in discernment with others.” Once this thought was formulated I immediately felt a sense of peace and with this peace a holy anxiety, which is not to be confused with faithless anxiety, but rather the anxiety that emerges when God calls you to take a seeming risk, particularly one that requires vulnerability.
After coming forward to my priest about my need to take this step, my first response was, “Oh my God! What have I done?!?” Nonetheless, because of pride, and faith (yes, those two can work together), I have continued to move forward. The pride played its part in that I did not want to be fickle, nor did I want to be perceived as fickle, as in, “Uh,.. I changed my mind about that whole priest thing.” Faith played its part in that I decided to trust God to be with me through this process even if it was inaugurated by some kind of stupidity or confusion on my part.