and when necessary

All I can seem to think right now is WTF. Last week brought into my life a perspective that had been missing for so long and tonight, one that has plagued me is back in full force. I really don’t know where to begin or if you even care to hear the tale, but tonight I feel like I did in seventh grade, only this time it matters.

Way back then I was in one of those grade school relationships that never go anywhere but you think are everything. Well I can’t remember how short it lasted but I do remember how it ended, with a phone call, from her friend. Thats right, the girl never called me to tell me it was over, she had her friend do it. Tonight I got a different phone call, not from the person who should have done it, but from someone else with the answer I didn’t want to hear.

As part of my master’s program I have to participate in two ten week long internships. These internships require me to be involved with some sort of ministry and spend time, at least an hour a week, with an advisor. You don’t have to have a fancy title or get paid, you just need to be a part of something bigger than yourself for 15 hours a week.  I wanted my internship to be at the church I grew up in. The last couple of months have been sort of a healing process for me. Over a year ago I walked away from my church’s seminary never wanting to engage with that group of people ever again. I was hurt and felt betrayed. The two quarters I have spent back in a different seminary environment have allowed me to reassess where I am and who I am and were truly instrumental in rebuilding the fractured person I had become. In the last couple of months I finally worked up the courage to go back to my home church, something I feared because I didn’t know how they would react to finding out I left the sem. It was good, I was hopeful, and thought there was no better place to do that internship than the place I grew up in, too bad they felt differently.

Like I said, tonight I got a phone call, but instead of hearing news that the board of elders approved my internship, they simply felt it was too much for the church to take on as it is in a period of transition. Rather than go into the gory details I’ll simply say that it has been in this period of transition for over two years. In fact, there is a long line of broken and hurting people who would say its been going on a lot longer than that. Tonight my name was etched onto that list. I feel betrayed, like someone else was chosen over me. Instead of working toward a both/and (as all I was really asking for was the chance to help out, without monetary compensation, and take up only an hour of someones time for 2 separate ten week periods) the either/or decision was made and I get the raw end of the deal.

Last week, when I was processing all that transpired I wondered if I had made the right decision to leave the sem.  There was still a part of me that wanted to believe that place, not only the sem but the denomination, really cared. That I mattered to them. What better place to go to find that assurance than the place I grew up? But all I found was another taste of the drink that makes me bitter. The drink that reminds me why I left. The drink that shows me the either/or means more to them than the both/and. I don’t know if I will ever understand that. How can we choose one over the other? Why do we say there can be only one?

I know that I am hurting right now. That I am bruised. That I feel betrayed. That I am probably being naive and idealistic in thinking that if they really cared about me they, or someone, would have found or fought for a way to make it work. Frankly though, I hope I never lose that idealism. I believe in a better way. A way that fights for people and does all it can to help those who need it. A way that doesn’t choose between an either/or but accomplishes the both/and. A way that doesn’t care about the past but seeks always to move forward. A way where we all, regardless of the identities we hold,  walk alongside one another, and when necessary, carry those who do not have the strength to walk.

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