Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Third Way

I was supposed to be doing my homework. I yanked myself away from my big comfy bed and my sweet sexy husband to work on a stupid paper. Only to discover that it requires watching a movie I have no way of viewing on this blustery fall eve.

Sigh. Jermaine's 12 hour day has put him into a deep sleep. I could wake him, but he has to be up in less than 6 hours and it just seems cruel [though I'm sure he would quite disagree].

I have to be up early in the morning. It is the last full day before I venture out of town for a week and there is much [too much] to do [and now I must add watching a movie that I don't care to see and writing a 3 page paper on it [a paper I promised myself I would finish by tonight [too bad I didn't read the actual assignment informing me of the movie-watching mania [not-reading-the-assignmentitis is a horrible disease I am constantly afflicted with by the way [an immense shame considering it's preventable [oh - but thank God I read it tonight [instead of my usual habit of reading it for the first time the night before it's due]]]]]]].

So, all that to say that I'm going to be tired tomorrow. But a blog is worth missing some sleep. And I really want to share this blog with you. So, I'm going to kick back with my keyboard, my computer screen and a yummy Sam Adams Octoberfest [thank God again - that Octoberfest is still available] and share. Thank you [for letting me share].

I was given the extreme pleasure of preaching my very first sermon this past Sunday. For me this event was comparable to my wedding day [less presents, tho]. I loved everything about it. I loved the way it humbled me. I loved standing in front of a group of people sharing good stuff that God had shared with me. I loved preparing for it. I loved deciding on a topic [and changing my mind about a bazillion times]. I loved that some people were affected. I loved praying before, during, after. I just loved it.

I've felt a pull towards becoming a pastor for a while now. Shortly after I moved to Maryland, I think. And when I delve back into the first days of my Christian walk, I realize I felt it then, too [though I brushed it aside because I felt ridiculously, hopelessly, and completely unqualified [and I was [and I still am [but that's why I'm sure now]]].

This [I think] solidified it.

I've haven't met very many people who feel the way I do. Most pastors I know didn't set out to become that way. It just happened. Not me. I've always known my talents. Writing. Speaking. Reading. Teaching. Being on stage. I struggled with not knowing what I wanted to be when I "grew up" for years. In high school I had the vague sense that I wanted to be famous. Though I couldn't [and didn't try to] tell you what for. I also wanted to create and be Editor-In-Chief of my own magazine [I called it Gypsy Blood - though in hindsight that's not a very good name]. I wanted it to showcase all the underground good stuff in the world [my examples at the time were - 1) The exciting underground DC rap scene, and, 2) Little League coaches]. In high school I was also heavily involved in theatre - a trend that continued for the next several years, well into college [and - I would say - in some ways still continues to this day]. As a result I've entertained more than two [more than, like, 1000] thoughts that my famousness would be a result of a future stellar acting career.

But, you know how the story goes - first came the drugs. And then the baby. And then there wasn't time for anything else [I couldn't even make it into college [let alone establish myself as a famous person]].

I've never wanted riches. Fame has always been my Achilles Heel.

While I was Wild Brandy, I believed [very passionately] that I was meant to be a rapper. I was enthralled by Eminem [and still am] and thought that maybe I could be the female version. I worked very hard on my raps. They were really bad. I had lost a good number of brain cells at that time and sadly, it showed in my writing.

When I became a Christian two things happened [though not at the same time]. First, I decided to write lyrics about good God stuff. Second, I met Jermaine, and he introduced me to The Greats [Lauryn Hill, Black Thought and The Roots, NAS, Ahmad Jones, and countless others I can't think of at the moment].

Two more things happened. First, I wrote my very first song. People loved it. Some of you know this. I performed it at a bunch of churches in Charlotte. I got to stand up in front of 5000 people [at Forest Hill Church [not all at one time, by the way [one big church, two or three services]] and "rap." That was to date the closest I've ever come to the fame I crave. The pastor of that mega church [the one where I was a only a humble housekeeper] wrote me a note praising my performance. So did one of the coaches of a big time Charlotte sports team [sorry - I can't remember which one [sports is really really not my thing]. And, to top it off, Anthony Hamilton's manager approached me about signing a record deal.

I'm not even kidding.

But, like I said, two things happened. And the second was that I was made to realize that this was not the path I was supposed to take.

That was so painful.

Let me just say that I'm not ruling out a rap career. With God all things are possible. And if He calls me there again I am SO there.

But He hasn't yet. And I do feel another call. And this call takes all the talents I've known about for years and weaves them together into this beautiful tapestry. And, at the same time, it takes all the weaknesses I've also known [and obsessed about] for years and places me in an arena where it's not only okay to share them, but it's good and healing - not only to myself, but to others as well.

I want to be a pastor. And that's what He's called me to be.

Oh My.

I have gone so totally off track. I was planning on writing about what I actually preached about [which was, I should add, The Myth of Redemptive Violence and The Third Way [the way of Jesus]].

Another night, I guess. Because it is definitely bedtime.

I need to add one more thing before I go, though.

Satan is attacking [much like as he did at time of my short-lived rap career].

In the past three days, one of my friends [who is like a brother to me] was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Another miscarried a child that she and her husband had been waiting for a very long time. Another found out that her boyfriend [of three years] has been unfaithful.

These have been staggering blows. To me and to my loved ones. I cry with my friends and I cry out to God on their behalf. I lament. And scream. And whimper. And ask to be held. And ask that they be held even closer, even tighter, even more secure by our Abba Father.

I ask, with every fiber in my being, that you do the same. And I thank you for doing so.

At the same time, God is presently teaching about gratitude. The days leading up to these recent events have been spectacular. Filled with many blessings and I thanked God for as many as I could articulate. And I want to stop there. But, He is teaching me to give thanks in all things.

I heard a story the other day. Two women in a concentration camp in World War II. They were reading the Bible shortly after they arrived and the particular passage said that we should be thankful for all things. At first, one of the women absolutely refused to be thankful for the fleas that infested their barracks. The other protested until finally the first relented and together they both thanked God for the fleas. Weeks passed. They found that they could hold Bible study with little to no interruption from the guards. They thanked God for this too. Eventually they found why. It seems that the guards did not want to enter the barracks because of the fleas.

I choked a little today when the thought of being thankful for these recent and horrible events popped into my head. I did not want to thank God for them.

But I trust Him. And I love my friends who are hurting. So I did. I don't know why. I don't understand. But I think that's okay. And I know God has a plan.

Good night.

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