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I have a coach. There, I’ve said it. I feel a bit like I am coming out of the closet. You see, I always thought coaches were for 1) Corporate executives so they could hear from yet another person how great they are (I’m a minister) 2) For people who are afraid of therapy (I have a therapist) 3) For professional athletes (I can’t kick or throw a ball straight).
Amazingly, I have discovered that there are coaches for pastors. And my coach is incredible: he is faithful, wise, and a pastor with a great deal of experience. He has helped me see anew things about myself and this strange call I have answered to ministry.
During my last session, I spoke with him at length about writing a blog, what I considered the dangers (look how great and interesting I am, etc) and the challenges. He suggested I write a blog to Jesus (darn that coach for challenging me!). And since that time, all I can do is write my love letter rant to the man from Nazareth who turned the world upside down. Bear with me. This is for Jesus.
You’ve ruined everything. You’ve also enriched everything. It’s as if someone turned the color saturation meter up on my computer screen. How did you do that?
Let me give you an example. Before I decided to follow you, I felt bad, truly bad, that there were people suffering in the world. They were far away, they made choices, they weren’t my responsibility. When I started following you, everything –from a person waiting for a diagnosis, to a nameless man on the street, to the mother carrying her dead child in Somalia to a refugee camp without enough room for her—haunts me. I pray for these people. I weep. I wonder why I am so fortunate. I write checks. I feel useless and self-centered. I whisper their names. Their images click through my mind like a Power Point.
In the same way, before I decided to follow you, I was happy! I enjoyed my life. But this enjoyment was only so deep, only so poignant. Now my life is spangled with joy. Everything is seeped in meaning. Just the word grace sends shivers down my spine. When a friend celebrates two years sober, my gratitude is lasting and authentic. When my child offers me a nighttime kiss, I am aware that such a kiss is so much more than one gesture. My warm bed each night brings a prayer of thanksgiving. I’ve got a newfound joy.
How did you do this, Jesus? Most of the time, I find the writings about you, especially found in the Bible, somewhat boring and at times even angering. Most of the time, I think your church has completely missed the mark. Sometimes, I even find your so-called followers destructive. So how, Jesus, did you take hold of my very being and claim me as your own? How did you do it in a way that a hot-head like me surrendered and then followed (not perfectly, but still followed)?
Jesus you are a mystery to me, yet at times you are as near to me as my very own husband snoring beside me in the middle of the night. How do you do it?
Rev. Abigail A Henrich (ehm!) is an ordained minister who earned her stripes at Princeton Theological Seminary and Colgate University. That said, Abby is really a mother-pastor-spouse who lives in a kinetic state of chaos as she moves from her many vocations: folding laundry, preaching, returning phone calls, sorting lunch boxes, answering e-mails, and occasionally thinking deep thoughts in the shower. Unabashedly she is a progressive Christian who believes some shaking up has got to happen in the church.