Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Letting Go Series #3: Bigness/Smallness

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. 


  1. Be who you are
    Do what you can
    Want what you have.

    Breathe early and often!

  2. Your blog is new to me, and I like what I read. Thank you for your Ministry.

    Best wishes from Wales

  3. We met at WAgN on Saturday and I always meant to look at your blog as soon as things settled down around here. Happily, I remembered which link was yours on my iPad and was moved by this post. The charismatic, strong personalities have a tough row to hoe. By no means do I think we should pity them (me) anymore than we should pity the meek, quiet alternative. I just know that for every pat on the back, every compliment I receive, there is an equal whisper in my head. Was I too much? Was I overbearing? Did I remember to solicit everyone's opinion? etc, etc.... My own little voice is my mother's, my father's, and sometimes my own. The oldest daughter of three, all too often I was told I was responsible for the other two girls. Wanting to be a better person than those around me, I determined that burden meant I should make sure my sisters' voices were heard, that they played a part in whatever scenario unfolded. Many times, they didn't care to. And that caused more drama. Only now that one is married and the other is in her own home do I feel that I can let go. You asked if God was there with you as YOU were in front of crowds (paraphrasing)... I wonder if I didn't wish Divinity away. Not in a martyr-like awareness, but definitely in a I-must-thnk-of-them-I-am-responsible-for-them way. As an adult, I can look back and see so many instances of not feeling worthy, of not thinking I deserved the Love available to me. I, too, believed in a God that was there for the huddled masses. Now, I can see that my lonely childhood, trying to be an adult, made me one of those unfortunates. :(This post is all over the place, but I do hope you can see what I am saying. I identify with your internal questions here even though I am coming from a completely different situation. I never want to be sorry for being outspoken or visible to my peers but I have finally reconciled that those gifts were given to me and I should embrace them rather than apologize for them.

    1. thanks for connecting with this post. i am glad you found my blog! i think we all have a path away from those parental voices, no matter how supportive or critical or whatever else. i am glad you are able to have the compassion for yourself required to see that we all are all part of the liberating arch of the building of the kin-dom (in liberation theology-speak). it's good to read about your journey to self-acceptance and embracing your own power.