I can’t really say I ever expected to find myself here–58 years old, unemployed after leaving a job of 25 years, in the fourth year of a three-year (yes, really) Master of Divinity degree program, living in student housing after a month of couch-surfing and sleeping in my car–and happier than I’ve been in years. As I have told friends, I have either had a complete break with reality, or I am on the path I am meant to be on. (Some people have commented that the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. . . . )
My three adult children get great enjoyment from commenting on this situation. “You’re more of a millennial than we are! We own a house! We have 401K’s! We have JOBS!”
Well, yeah. But really, isn’t that adulting thing a bit overrated?
Learning to live out the call of the heart, the deepest expression of who we are and how we are meant to be, our unique wonderfulness–this is never simple, and rarely easy. Despite the claims made by some of the shallower branches of the Christian faith, there is no quick path to finding our “purpose” or “mission.” The journey involves undoing and deconstructing, not just goal-setting or pushing through.
This work does not come without pain.
And the pain is worth it.
It is only after deconstructing that we can reconstruct. And faith reconstructed can be faith worth living into.
So here I am, well into my sixth decade in life, learning to live into a new calling, a reconstructed faith. From the outside–and, frankly, sometimes from inside my own head–this can look pretty unstable. I’m living income-free, in temporary housing. I’ll likely be ordained–God willing and the people consenting–in the next year or so, but at present I have only dreams and desires and faith in the place of firm prospects. Yet when I was in a “stable” job and “stable” living situation, I was often unhappy.
Perhaps I was experiencing gaining the world, and losing my soul. The Evangelical expression of my faith tried to teach me that this meant engaging in “worldly” pleasures and in the process forfeiting my “salvation.” Now I find that means compromising my deepest self in trying to live by the missions and purposes imposed by a rigid and legalistic expression of the Christian faith.
There is an irony in this: the conservative Evangelical expression of faith was what placed me in danger of gaining the world and losing my soul. The antidote was accepting the boundless love of God that brought me through deconstruction to reconstruction and wholeness.