The Mustard Seed and the Wrestling Angel

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I struggled with sadness and shame and depression for the last year. But I have come out on the other side with a deep desire to discover who I am and who I’m meant to be. A big piece of what I’ve discovered is that I’m unhappy in my current profession. And I feel called by God to help others through their times of darkness and help them to know there is hope and help them feel loved and accepted in this mean and confusing world. Initially I felt this meant I was supposed to go back to theology school to get my M.Div. and go into a ministry like counseling or hospital chaplaincy.

But I also realize that to help others, I need to feel fulfilled as well. I’m not excited about the prospect of three years of school and the ordination process. I worked with our homeless ministry yesterday morning at church and came home feeling exactly the way I’d like my work to make me feel. I felt I was helping others. I felt I was making a difference. But I know there’s a difference between four hours in a church basement and a full-time job.

So now I’m wondering, does it make more sense to keep my fairly well-paying job and find my fulfillment in other ways outside my job? Still, that’s 40 hours a week feeling dissatisfied. Do I spend $100,000 to go to school and spend four years preparing for new career where I might feel like I’m doing more to help the world?

We talked about the parable of the mustard seed in Sunday School this morning from Matthew 13:31-32. One of the takeaways is that great things can grow from something small and become a place where “the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” Can my volunteer work be a place where something strong and welcoming grows, where I can help others and I find my satisfaction?

Our sermon this morning was from Genesis 32:22-31 where Jacob wrestles with the angel. They wrestle all night and finally the angel says, “Enough all ready! It’s morning. Let me go!” and Jacob replies that he will not stop fighting until the angel blesses him. The lesson was about how our struggles can heal us and how turning away from them can keep us from reaching our full potential and from becoming our whole authentic selves – from being blessed. I thought to myself, “Well, should I wrestle with this long process of school and ordination so I can find my blessing?”

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Maybe this search for vocation and healing in and of itself is my wrestling match. Or maybe I’m meant to go back to school and that’s the fight. I might only know the answer if I apply for theology school and see if God blesses the struggle with a big scholarship! Still looking for the answers.

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4 responses to “The Mustard Seed and the Wrestling Angel”

  1. Michael Dennis says :

    Maybe, instead of working so hard to find IT (whatever it is), you should let God bring it to you. MAYBE he is wanting you to be patient and he will reveal it to you.

  2. dmcco01 says :

    Do you think I could be over-thinking it? Why! That doesn’t sound like me at all! 😉

  3. Amy says :

    I was thinking the same thing as Michael, but with different verbage. Follow your passion and it will lead you there – wherever there is. Today it’s the homeless ministry, tomorrow it may be the homeless person you meet there or the random errand the director sends you on. You don’t know when you start, you’ll just be able to look back down the road when you get there and say, “Ah, I see.” It’s not as hard as we make it, methinks.

  4. patchingcracks says :

    I can relate to your post. I worked as a youth pastor for over 10 years before going to seminary because I didn’t want to waste time going to school… I wanted to make a difference right then. When I eventually went I was working as a chaplain while I earned my degree online… which was much cheaper than going to seminary. What I learned was that the degree makes a huge difference in your effectiveness as a teacher and preacher. There were all sorts of things that I taught and preached over the years that weren’t entirely biblical. It is worth the time.

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