I’m really good at feeling like I’m terrible at things. Can’t find a job right now? Must be because I am completely unqualified for everything in the world. Can’t figure out how to pay for grad school? Only because I failed at getting a job and have had to defer my student loans. No girlfriend/boyfriend/partner/whatever? Clearly it’s because I suck at relationships and I’m doomed to live alone forever.
Ok, so it’s not QUITE that drastic (at least not all the time).
I applied to be the Young Adult Worship Chaplain at General Assembly this year. The position would have involved creating and leading worship services for the Young Adult caucus, helping plan the Synergy worship, and working with the Young Adult Caucus folks in general to make GA a worshipful as well as active and justice-focused time for Young Adults.
As you can probably tell from the awesome past tense of the previous paragraph… I didn’t get the position.
I got the call as I was playing a magi during the Occupy Boston nativity play (not sure which magi I was… which one carried the gift of housing, again?), so I didn’t answer. I listened to the message (a generic, “I’m calling about this position, please give me a call back”), called back with anticipation, and was told I didn’t get the position (a generic, “you were one of our top candidates but we went with somebody else, we hope to work with you in the future”).
I am proud to say that I didn’t cry until I was off the phone. How’s THAT for discipline?
“Clearly” I thought to myself, “it’s because I suck. It’s because they don’t see potential for ministry in me. I don’t even know why I applied. It was stupid to apply. I’m never applying for crap like that again.” Logically I suppose none of that is true.
One of my good friends serves on the group that picked the chaplain and I know they don’t feel those things about me. But it hurt because I wanted it so, so badly. I wanted it because I love worship and I see how much room there is to expand that and because we are going to be doing AMAZING stuff in Phoenix and I wanted to be a part of that.
I know that just being in Phoenix will make me a part of General Assembly, but I wanted to be a part of the inner workings, the “what makes it go,” and I wanted to be a part of what made it a worshipful experience as well as one where we got to live out our faith through social justice.
I love worship. I love the arts and actions and beauty of worship done well and I’m excited that I’m getting to the point where I have some of those skills and I’m even more excited to continue honing them. I love that I’m at the place where I can get up and offer a service with only days of angst, rather than weeks.
But I also love conferences. I’ve been doing conferences for years and years and years and I know what works and I know what DOESN’T. Conferences hold a special place in my heart, but I have been through so many conferences on so many topics that simply going as a participant is sometimes its own special form of angst-producing. I don’t “sit by” very well, especially when it’s something I care so deeply about.
I don’t even know if I’ll get to go to General Assembly this year since I’m unlikely to get the funding I did last year (and even attending last year still had me spending more upfront money than was really financially feasible for me). But if I do go it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be hard to not be a participant in making GA work, but rather somebody who GA happens to. I want there to be room for me, too, to do things. To engage and help and BE. I’m at a time in my life where I’m relatively unencumbered and I wanted so badly to throw myself into this. And I can’t. There just doesn’t seem to be that space for me to do that. And I’m still a little broken up about that.