Number 3 in a series. A colleague looked me straight in the eye and spoke with great conviction: Let it go, Victoria. Let it go. I have decided to take him at his word, and reflect on issues with which I struggle to let go.
With the power of my will, I shall be healed.
This line from a feminist liturgy is good ground for today's lesson in letting go. So often, those of us with strong wills, with powerful charisma, and a steady affirmation of that charisma and expressed will, find ourselves on top. We are confirmed in our faithful leadings. We have jobs, communities, security in the sight of God and country. We are models, examples, vociferous front-men. We rock, and sometimes, oftentimes, we know it. This is not say we are arrogant, though some of us are. This is to say we are self-aware, engaged, and completely committed to the work of the moment, its power and purpose. Whole hearted, big hearted, we are there.
I have been this person. Standing in front of a community, leading in prayer, in action. Secure in myself and using all the tools available to me, I have moved mountains of perception. I have changed things, or so I have thought. It's felt good.
But was She there? Was our shared and disparate God waiting in the wings to stroke my ego after each public offering? Many public successes, for me, have been followed by a level of self-recrimination, self-criticism, and uncertainty. The more public success, the more this backlash happens.
I do not think this is the voice of a vengeful, jealous God who wants to make sure I am keeping the covenant, playing my ascribed role. Rather, I think this is the voice of a jealous parent, the result of a life grown in the soup of narcissism and neglect. The price of saying yes to myself, as a child, was saying no to the needs of my family, laid out before me, always demanding, always seeking to annex my will, my power. It's a lot to get over.
But I do, every day. And there are gifts of these voices, though that might be hard to believe. Though I have the burden of learned lessons of inadequacy with the weight of my family's need, the question of if God is with the charismatic, the strong willed, is a good one.
Arguably, God is with most folks, in our imperfections, in our leadings and mis-leadings. God is with the farmer and the physician. God is with the strong and the weak. But within a liberation theology context, the scales are tipped to the poor and marginalized, to those who don't read well on your daily teleprompter. And in a world where those in power get more of what's what, I like a theology that privileges those without, those who may not register on the mainstream cashbox of our dominant culture.
But, then is God with ME as I struggle against these voices of recrimination? Is God holding my hand, helping me embrace a will that singes, an expressed leadership that is sometimes so large to me, I fear it eclipses the Divine I seek to honor?
But perhaps I am asking the wrong questions. Maybe it's not a question of if God is with me. Maybe we don't need to worry about if our actions are God-worthy, or eclipse or create, or magnify or lionize, or any of that prevarication. Maybe it's about an alignment of the will itself. In a previous post, I noted that it takes a strong will to be willing to leap into a relationship with a will not entirely one's one. What if, beyond this, there is a will that is seeking to align with ME? What if, the faithful following of the seeker is the whole point? If I express a will of public ministry, where I stand before many, I can be just as connected to God as if I choose a ministry of quiet service on the farm, in my family, with my friends.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been told, You have such a quiet nature, or, You are so powerful and out there. It's an old dichotomy, and one I could do well to let go of-- it is a false dichotomy. The life of the Spirit is big enough to take all comers, all expressions of faith, of giftedness. I should not be afraid of either the bigness or smallness of the will in me to serve our shared and disparate God. Each will come in their own time, as the fruit ripens on the vine, so my faith will grow and express itself in new ways.