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Monday, October 11, 2010

I Quit My Job

August 15th was my five year anniversary at First Baptist Church of Austin, Texas. Three days later, I quit my job.

I officiated my first funeral when I was 10 years old. It was for my cat, Thisbe, who belonged to my parents when they married eighteen years earlier. Twenty-one years later, I officiated my second funeral for my uncle in Arizona who drank himself to death. Maybe I always knew I would be a minister. Maybe not.

At the dinner table one night, in those same years as the cat funeral, I announced that I wanted to be one of two things when I grew up: a preacher or president.

"Oh you can't be president," my concerned younger sister told me. "They'll kill you."

Well, probably. But not for any reasons that my sister understood at the time. All we knew as little kids was that of the four presidents we knew: Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy and Reagan (I don't think either of us could remember Carter), only one of them hadn't been shot at while in office. Presidents died. We, the people, killed them.

And If I were president instead of Obama or Bush I or II or Clinton or Carter or Reagan, I probably would be shot for being a socialist or a liberal or a hippie... and for being a woman I suppose (the only certifiable proof of the aforementioned offenses).

So I became a preacher instead.

Because in the pulpit it's okay to wear a nose ring and cowgirl boots, and say blessed are the peacemakers, and tell people they need to give 10% of their income away.

Sometimes.

Not always, but sometimes. And fortunately I was at a church where sometimes preachers can do that.

But now its time to fill in the gaps that I overlooked as a child. Mostly as a kid I think I saw myself making speeches. I loved listening to our preacher, a man who told the same stories over and over again for 30 years, and who ran marathons in short, pink running shorts. And I loved President Reagan because I knew nothing about him other than he had been an actor in the movies. And I saw his face on the TV screen and knew that I was an actress (there wasn't the PC term "actor" used universally for both genders or transgenders of performers yet), so surely I could act and make dramatic speeches too.

As an adult, I know there's more to ministering than preaching and more to the presidency than speaking in Congress, and so I'm choosing another route.

Operation Strange Bird has begun.

I know I am one. I'm an ordained Baptist minister who preaches peace, pushes gay rights, teaches Old Testament (with a little bit of American literature thrown in), acts in local theater (and once played a mini-skirt-wearing Mary Magdalene), writes blogs (both public and secret for the discretion of her family), has never married, but dated a long list of men that is almost laughable (and boy do we laugh), suffers but survives a mental health disorder, and who would someday love to be a lounge singer.

Do I belong in the church?

Yes.

Should I be running the church?...

I'm tired of running.

So I'm resting, and writing, and applying to PhD programs in Southern Literature, and officiating weddings, and reflecting, and auditioning, and exercising, and doing some guest performing, and hopefully visiting my grandparents and sisters whom I haven't seen since Christmas.

And most of this because I've learned so much in the past five years at FBC and so much in the past 32 years on this planet we call earth. And now it's time to spread my little wings, as patched together as they may be of ambitions and dreams and maybe-this'll-works, and try to fly. Even just a few feet would be okay.

And wherever I land I land. And then I will try again. And hopefully somewhere in there I'll get a little more perspective on my life and a little more direction. And perhaps with the help of some Wind maybe things will pick up enough that I'll actually soar, and someday land on my feet.

And if not, there's always the classifieds. Someone's bound to need a blessing for a dead cat.

7 comments:

Patrick said...

Honesty is a rare and refreshing thing in this world - thanks for modeling that virtue on a regular basis, Ann. God's blessings on your continuing journey.

Michael said...

. . . and let me and ALT know if you take the stage anywhere around Austin, please! Will miss you and will follow you!

best,

Michael

Daniel Clark said...

Wow...that took guts. I am not too surprised, but I am impressed.

field said...

aNN,
thanks. you are a gift to whomever is fortunate enough to have you. (PLEASE don't take that as patronizing as it might sound coming from an old fart denominational suit like me) I'm not sure where your prophetic, artistic, dramatic, comedic, creative, partying, PEACE-ful, loving soul is taking you but I know the beer will be cold; the sermons will be humorous and pointed and timely; and the Peace of the realm of God will be near and evident. holla if you are near Lindley's home anytime.

Mike Young

Tamar Cloyd said...

I love your courage as I also took that leap of faith 4 months ago. We are made to do the things that we think we cannot do. But we must, for our sanity and to teach future generations that anything is possible....

All the blessings in the world sis....

James Hill, Jr. said...

Best wishes on this new chapter in your life. Quite unbelievable to me that your childhood cat was named Thisbe. My brother and I got a cat for our apartment while I was in seminary and he still at Jewell. We thought we were so clever picking a cat name no one else would ever choose. As with most pronounces made at age 22, we were both wrong and late :)

Scott Fields said...

You've always impressed me as a remarkably talented lady. I have no doubt your new endeavors will be as blessed and fruitful--and far more so, I hope--as everything you've accomplished 'till now. I'm thrilled you're able to step back and make a move like this. This sort of thing is actually how I wound up in St. Joe to begin with. I came to town with no job, no place to live, no idea what would happen next, only a reasonably clear compulsion that it was where I was supposed to be. You know some of what followed after that; suffice to say that my seven years in Missouri brought me more joy and productive activity than any prior time in my life.

Under normal circumstances, I tend to caution folks who are looking to spend more of their time searching for success in writing. It isn't as easy as it sounds, and too many people who want to make the attempt simply aren't craftwise enough to have much hope of breaking through. Having read several of your blogs, however . . . I don't think you have anything to worry about (nor do I). Looks like you'll keep right on impressing me for many years to come.

God's blessings, and all my hopes, Ann.

- Scott