I nearly forgot the day. The chance phone call pulled me out of the fog prodding my memory. I would have missed the moment, missed the nerves, the helplessness. What would have been worse? Enduring the first interview in fourteen years, burning the arm pressing the blouse, quizzing the systematic theology in the bed at night? Or forgetting it and disqualifying myself, inept and neglectful.
That day I tried to marshal from deep within, dormant now waking, the suppressed theologian: Is salvation ours to keep? Are the good works even necessary? How do we treat the homosexual image of God? What is assured about heaven? This was no easy moment.
I braved it with more blessing than brilliance.
When the distinguished professor left the room, satisfied to grant the faculty place, I let out my breath, received my instructions and then let my new boss, my old friend heavy with trust and hope, pray over me, my gifts, my students.
I said, when heads were lifted, "This is the gift. Thank you.
"No," he named me, "You're the gift to me."
The semester has been a series of firsts and fortitude. With everything else swirling these months, it was all I could do to read the books distracted and write the lessons distressed. Each week invited me to strip the dare and with its imposing cloak wipe away the dolor. Each was a savior breathing confidence and purpose into my hollowed out bones.
But when I sat down with them, I came alive. This group, these students fit just for me, pressed my study of hospitality, compassion, intercession. Let me lead them around negative perceptions, extend their good news and introduce new cultures and conversations. Missional warriors, they pressed forward, sent, and came out faithful, remade and brave. I'm amazed at their truth and grace.
Today, I wished them well. Gifts all. Thanked them for their fervor and fire. Asked their final thoughts, more gracious words of affirmation could not have been voiced:
"A clear gifting... meaningful...challenged...favorite."
All the convening grit, all the pushing through had changed, bolstered and surfaced my aptitude, my passion, my grasp and transferred ownership to them.
What aching homeschool mother deserves such favor? What jilted pastor's wife receives such grace? What neophyte writer reaps such pools of expression? What shepherd teacher merits such impact and weight?
I. No longer afraid to be the gift I was named to be.