I've always been a "safe" person. The sort of person who likes guarantees, whose actions are often based on the hope (and expectation) of positive outcomes, who does things so people will like her. I thrive on feedback, especially the positive sort. I don't like taking risks. And for someone whose chief spiritual gift is "Faith", I'm really lousy about stepping out in faith in my own life.
In the past crazy eight months, that has been, slowly but surely, changing. First there was the decision to accept Mac's offer to preach. Then there was the exploration to return to being a pastor. Next, slowly but surely, getting more involved at BT and doing things without knowing what would happen: initiating relationships instead of merely responding to the invitations of others, becoming a part of ministries (like the Endowment Fund) without knowing if I'd be good at them or not. Finally, the biggest leap is coming up in about four months: when I will look in the face of my District Superintendent and tell him, "send me".
Through all of this, I've come to rely more and more on my own intuition, my own authority, and my own faith in myself. Most importantly, I have come to rely upon God, upon my faith in God, and upon God's faith in Patti. It's wonderful and freeing while also being terrifying and agonizing.
A huge part of this is my growing ability and willingness to listen to my "heart" rather than my "head". I am a feeling person, a relational person. My heart tends to lead me to be in relationship with people, to reach out to others, to use the gifts God has given me. Of course, following my heart occasionally leads me to put my not-very-big (6 Narrow) foot in my mouth, so my head does come in handy from time to time. I just need to allow my heart to lead and be informed by my head, rather than allow my head to call the shots. Because, when I let my head lead, I tend to over-analyze and be anxious, which creates distance between myself and others and causes me to second-guess my gifts, my abilities, and my instincts.
In so many ways, I feel like I'm free-falling. Like I'm defying gravity. Because I'm stepping out of my self-imposed safety zones. For the first time in almost 35 years of life, I am (mostly) basing my actions not on what I "should" do, what others think I "should" do, or how other people might react to what I do. Instead, my actions are based on what I hear God telling me to do, and my confidence in my own intuition and authority (and my ability to discern God's voice).
As I said, both wonderful and terrifying. Especially when it comes to relationships, which as we all know, are at the heart of ministry. Isn't it amazing to watch God work in our lives?