One of the most consistent guidances I have received in life is to always be authentic in my interactions with others. To be authentic means to be exactly who I am, to speak from my heart, and to do so with an air of confidence. In my experience, coming into myself as a full person has helped this process quite a bit. What has always come most easily is speaking from the heart. The most difficult is doing so with an air of confidence.
A friend of mine includes this by line in her emails: “be yourself—everyone else is taken.” It is a funny, but true statement. I mean, Really, who else would we be? It is a fair assumption and expectation that people present themselves as they are, instead of someone else. It is reasonable to expect people to honestly report on their feelings, their life situations. And yet, from time to time, I do hear stories from those who speak and act in a way they think others want them to speak and act. The underlying concern is usually fear, fear of rejection. That gnawing feeling that one is not good enough.
In my second conversation with the search team from First Congregational Bellevue, I was asked this question: Of all the characters in the Bible, with whom do you most resonate? I replied, “presuming Jesus is already taken, I could be most anyone in the Bible. I could be one of the disciples (alluding to the more missional part of my personality). I could even be the Phoenician woman at the well (alluding to the times in my life when I have been judged by others).” Since those answers resulted in me being called to serve as one of your pastors, I am guessing they proved adequate. It helps that my words did come from my heart, that they were truthful and showed a bit of my personality.
20+ years ago, the saying “What Would Jesus Do?” was quite popular. I later heard that question rephrased by the Rev. Linda Jaramillo to “the question is not what would Jesus do but WHAT DID JESUS DO?”
We are in a tough time right now. Time stopped this past March, creating an opening for the hidden to become evident, for the silenced to finally be heard. Any fear of rejection has been replaced by people speaking truth to power, demanding change now. Difficult conversations are being shared between the oppressed and those holding power. People are showing up and speaking up in ways not witnessed for many years, even centuries.
Norms are constantly changing and even more changes likely await us. We are all being asked to stand in solidarity and conversation with people whose life experience has been unlike ours. We are being asked to summon a courage possibly unknown to us, to speak truth to power in this moment and the next.
In seminary, my advisor would frequently speak these words to students filled with insecurity: “you have this.” In other words, you have what it takes to do the work, to learn the unknown, to claim it as your own. And while individual learning and expression is often necessary or preferred, just like 12 disciples had Jesus, we have his teachings. We have one another to help us discover and follow the path ahead of us. We have the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us. It is my hope, my prayer and my belief that as a faith community, “we have this.”
With Great Hope,
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