{ShoutLaughLove}: a woman's place

Dozens of us gathered atop Mount Washington to pray.  To lift our voices, that this city on a hill would become as known for Jesus as it once was for steel.

Eyes open, we looked out over the expansive Three Rivers.  Yellow bridges bustled with commuters gearing up for work in towers that defined the skyline.  Heinz Field, that beacon of Steelers pride, anchored the far shore.

We looked out at each other, too.  Though strangers, we were partners in ministry to youth across the city and suburbs.  We came to swap stories of a shared calling, to encourage one another in the work of loving kids like Jesus.

It was a diverse crowd by race and gender, though less by age.  But it soon became clear that every woman there was a spouse or volunteer--all but two of us.

At twenty-two, the Director of Youth Ministry position was my first Big Girl Job.  I didn't have a divinity degree or a decade of experience, but my heart belonged to my God and *my* kids, whom I loved with abandon.

It was hard to believe that one could actually be paid (not much, but still) to hang out with students over coffee and conversation, ski trips and soup kitchens, late nights and laughter, concerts and campfires, service projects and Sunday school.  What other job lets you craft Bible studies and watch Gilmore Girls on the clock?

I loved my work, but the nomenclature always tripped me up.  Director of Youth Ministry never felt right:  it was too close to Youth Director, and I wasn't directing teens in some sort of performance.  Youth Worker sounded awkward and weird, and it didn't fit really, since I was creating a program and not working for someone else's.

OK, Someone Else's, obviously, but you get my point, yes?

Youth Pastor was a title decidedly reserved for those middle-aged men with the M Divs.  Whenever I tried to claim it (because often it was just easier to say Youth Pastor), I would invariably get the "but you're not really a pastor, right?"

No, I am not really a pastor.  But I am a minister. And so are you.

Ministry is not a privilege earned with a degree, ordination, or paid position.  It is part of our inheritance as believers, and it's a shame that we've collectedly handed over this part of our calling to a professional ministerial class.

We've shirked our responsibilities.

As Christians, we are saved not only from something [sin and death] but for something, too: the ministry of reconciliation.  We are re-created in Christ not merely to fit us for Heaven, but that we might better image God and be his ambassadors of hope here and now.  We  are ministers of the Kingdom of God and Light to a world fumbling in darkness and longing for redemption.

In this season of my life, my most important ministry is not at MOPS, online, or even in my church or neighborhood:  it's at home with my kids.

{Now, I firmly believe that "A Woman's Place is in the House. And Senate." and all that.  This is my story in this season--not prescriptive for all women everywhere.  You got me?}

It's a weighty calling, to model Christ's love to small children and teach them to walk in his steps.  Many days, this ministry of sippy cups and time-outs and "in-our-family-we-use-our-words-to-love-one-another" feels less like a ministry than a battle--a battle I fear I am losing to two tiny babes with wills as strong as iron.  (Like their mama?)

I know I felt better-equipped to be a youth pastor.

Motherhood is a spotlight, illuminating every dark, selfish corner of my heart.  It's a mirror:  one of those magnifying ones revealing the grotesque blemishes I thought I'd hidden under layers of carefully applied concealer.

Parenting small people is so much harder that I anticipated, but motherhood is also drawing me to God's throne of grace with a passion I didn't know before.

Being acutely awareness of my own selfishness and brokenness is so. very. humbling.  But I can see God's power at work in my weakness, and I know that his Kingdom is growing here, even when I can't see it or feel it.

Today is a new day and his mercy abounds. 

so much shouting, so much laughter

Your turn.  Anyone can participate in ShoutLaughLove:  just link ANY post illuminating the truth, humor, difficulty, or beauty of your journey at this moment in time--new or from the archives.  Something that fired you up or made you smile.  What's helping you hold it together (or not).  If you are learning, struggling, or celebrating, I hope you'll share your story here every Tuesday.

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