Yesterday afternoon, my pastor sent an e-mail to four of us who either have pastoral experience and/or some sort of seminary training. He wants to know if any of us are interested in assisting in worship leadership and he also offered up a preaching gig on January 2. I replied and agreed to both assisting in worship and preaching on January 2, or any other date he might need someone.
Almost immediately after sending that e-mail, I began to have a mini panic attack, thinking, "oh my gosh, what have I done?" Not only have I not preached much since leaving Saint John's, but I've never preached for more than 50 people at a time, and even the early service at our church draws 100+. What if he takes me up on the offer, and I absolutely suck? What if I choke? I mean, it's not like SJ was a great indicator of my preaching ability. What if I put myself out there and I make a total fool of myself and (worse) God?
Or, what if my return e-mail was too wordy and sounded too insecure and as a result he doesn't ask me to preach because he thinks I'm not up to it? Then (as time goes by without any response from him) I'll feel rejected and maybe even angry. After all, I can preach and lead worship. People have told me that I can. And would I have made it this far in "the process" if I had absolutely no gifts? God's called me...I have gifts...I can do it...but what if I don't get the chance?
But all those people...and what if I get the chance and I fail miserably...
And why on earth does the opinion of this fellow clergy person (who has about 15 years of experience on me and who I like and respect but don't know well at all and who definitely doesn't know me or my story) matter more than the opinion of the God who created me, called me, and loves me?
Do you see why I have this urge to escape to Rio (or someplace in the Southern Hemisphere) for a few years?
Or, maybe you're just shaking your head in exasperation and thinking, "Patti, would you QUIT being so neurotic! There's nothing you can do about it now!" Or something along those lines.
My confidence in my ability to preach and lead worship effectively, to function in a priestly capacity, was so damaged by my experience in the parish that even TWO AND A HALF YEARS LATER, I'm still dealing with it. I think (ok, I know) the only way I'm going to fully recover is to get back in the proverbial saddle, get more experience, and seek and receive more feedback. Even though it will be painful, even though I won't always like what I hear. I know that's what I need to do. I can sense God telling me that and nudging me in that direction. And maybe (searching brain for good pseudonym for my pastor) Mac's e-mail yesterday was a big nudge from God.
But no matter what my cognitive side is telling me, my emotions are something else again. It's one thing to know you need to get back in the saddle, but it's another thing altogether to actually do it.
Prayers and general encouragement in the form of comments are welcome. (: