I got stuck in my pants the other day. Like full-blown, freaking out in the bathroom, praying to God there wasn’t a hidden camera, stuck in my pants.
It all started when I lifted weights the evening prior. I woke up with sore and swollen legs so I squeezed into a pair of compression pants to mask the pain as I faced another day of squats and cycling. The funny thing about compression pants is that the leg to waist ratio is equivalent to the measurements of a pregnant Barbie. By the time my legs were fully suctioned the waist was left sagging in completely unflattering ways. To avoid any question that perhaps I had crapped my pants; I cinched tight the draw sting then knotted and sealed it with a bow. All was going well until the five-minute impasse between Bootcamp and Cycling. I made a quick run to restroom, and in my haste, pulled the wrong side of the bow. Instead of the drawstring releasing, it double knotted and became breathtakingly tight. I fiddled with it for an eternity, then tried to just force the pants off with my bulging biceps. I even considered a seam to seam tear with my bare hands. As advertised, the pants didn’t budge and the seams were, without a doubt, indestructible. Panicked and clearly delusional about my abilities to free myself; I looked for Plan B. Flushing first, as to not raise suspicion, I rushed from the bathroom to my office looking for scissors. With one snip I could breath again. I was also late. I slid into my class pondering a slew of less embarrassing excuses for my tardiness. I decided to confess. Afterall, my butt was then sagging and I didn’t want them to think I had crapped my pants. “Better to get caught with your pants up,” I joked, “than caught with your pants down.”
My family is moving to Minnesota. We are moving for all the right reasons. Yet we are leaving behind a fundamental part of who we are, who we’ve been, who we thought we were supposed to be.
My husband and I met when I was in Bible College and he was in a School of Ministry. We married starry-eyed about how he would be the perfect pastor, and I his perfect pastor’s wife. It wasn’t so much a dream as this promise we clung to. Somebody had told us we were clearly “called,” and we thought that was enough. But from church to church we were told we were the wrong fit, had the wrong education, that we were not enough. Still my husband pursued this elusive call to pastoral ministries; sacrificing our marriage, his family, his own health. He worked 50 hours a week as a welder, only to revel in his Sunday mornings as a youth pastor. Sundays were the one time he felt complete. I supported him while still chasing my own slippery calling: teaching. Once certain that I would some day be on the bus with the women of faith, I found the only place that wanted me to teach was the local athletic club. I found joy there, but it didn’t compare to those few and far between moments when I got to teach on the faith that I loved.
We are moving to Minnesota. We don’t even have a church there let alone some great calling. My husband took a job at a clean-energy company and I rejected the only job offer I’ve received thus far. It was just too corporate for me.
We were packing our stuff into a u-haul last month and a few people from the church were helping. In the midst of our entire life being crammed into a metal tube, a woman turned to my mother and said, “It’s just not enough to be called.” She didn’t mean be hurtful with her words. Just honest. Still the honesty shredded my already broken soul. Her words spoke aloud the question that my heart had whispered for days: had I disappointed God, or had he disappointed me?
Should we have sold all that we owned and gone deep into debt to complete the schooling that would give my husband a higher status in the church arena? Should we have continued to work a combined 120 hours a week to maintain this status of called to the ministry? Had we just lacked faith? Surely we had hurt the people who believed and invested in us. For that I am sorry. Yet we are stuck. Stuck between being called and lacking.
Because we are not enough.
Is that my fault? Or is it God’s?
All the chatter on the blogs lately is about why the Millennials are leaving the church . . . too much flash, too much youth ministry, not enough social media . . . the theories go on. I argue that they are leaving the church for the same reasons that people have been leaving the church for decades, for the same reasons that Martin Luther nailed his tenets to the Church door, for the same reason that Jesus overturned the tables. The church draws people in with their religion; a promise of grace, and forgiveness, and unconditional love. And the church drives people away with their requirements; a constant reminder to parishioners that they are not enough. As quickly as people are drawn to grace, they will flee judgment.
We tell people that God loves them, that they can come as they are, that they will find purpose in our walls. Then we tell them that they are too gay, that their particular sin is particularly bad, that they have too many children or not enough children, that they should wear longer shorts and higher necks. We tell them that they are called and then we tell them that they are not enough. And when we say that they are not enough, we imply that God is not enough.
The church puts on its righteousness with good intentions: to look different from the world, to give the image of having it all together, to prevent anyone from realizing that even they have crap in their pants. But when the string is pulled, when imperfect people fill the pews, that self-righteousness becomes unbearably tight.
In this age of mega churches, where ministry has become a career choice; it’s time to cut the string. To quit telling people that they are not enough, and just stick to the sufficiency that God is. Everyone is called. Everyone has a purpose. If mine is to teach, then I will be a teacher wherever I go . . . to an audience of one or a million, or twenty sweaty cyclists. If my husband is a pastor, he will be a pastor wherever he goes . . . even where the stained glass don’t shine.
I opened my devotional yesterday and it read “God wants people he can rely on.” I closed it immediately. If only they had stopped after those first few words. God wants people. Period. To be human is to be enough. I have not disappointed God, and He has not disappointed me. His grace is sufficient. I am enough.