Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My story? No Problem.

By Rae Nelson

Every time I open my journal (yes, though I blog, I am an avid journal keeper as well) I am greeted by a flyer I taped there months ago that says "Change the world? No problem" it's cut from the newsletter of Interfaith Youth Core (ifyc.org). IFYC reminds me multiple times a day that I have the power to change minds and hearts through myactions and words- even though (or maybe because I am a 19 year old college student who doesn't know what I'm doing in a month, much less for the rest of my life). I am reminded daily by this flyer that I am a WITNESS- just as Bishop Hanson has reminded us many times thus far in the last 18 hours at Churchwide Assembly, reminded that we all have hearts and hands to witness, to change the world.

I enter this assembly with some trepidation. I'm at the time in my life where I have to be thinking about what I'm doing next- grad school, career, etc. Since I was very small I've tried to listen to God; about in the moment decisions like how to treat my neighbor, but also about longer term decisions like a career. I've heard a call to serve God as an ordained rostered leader in the past, and am currently discerning that more, but in the past few months I've decided to try to put that on hold. Let me share why;

Two years ago I attended my first Churchwide Assembly, August 2007. In July 2007 I had begun to come out as a queer person.
Needless to say, CWA '07 was an overwhelming experience. In the weeks leading up to the event, I had struggled with the idea of even being involved in the church anymore, because I felt as though the call that I had been feeling my whole life- the call to ordination in word and sacrament- was not possible in the church I had called home for 17 years. I felt lost and as though I needed to start all over.

While waiting in the airport for several other youth members of assembly, the staff person who was sent to pick me up began a conversation with me about call and vocation. It was through this conversation that I began to regain hope for my call to serve God as a pastor- he was the first person to affirm that I could follow that call, I just had to change the world (okay, church, but for the sake of this blog- world) first. He also was the first to remind me- out loud- that I didn't have to change the world on my own, there were a whole bunch of people who had been and would continue working for full inclusion for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities already, and I could join in the movement.

That day and week, Ted was a witness to me. He changed my world with words, actions, and just through his life as an active ally for full inclusion in the ELCA.

Now, two years later, I am in Minneapolis, praying, gracefully engaging, sharing my story, and yes, blogging to share my witness and hopefully through this active sharing and vigiling bring the church to an awareness of the Holy Spirit's call to love, regardless- or maybe because of- who we are or who we love. Bishop Hanson asked me to witness, right? No problem.

1 comment:

  1. In Rae we find a witness who went through dismay while she discerned what her vocation and path could be. I hope that with the passage of the Sexuality Statement and the 4 recommendations this will truly be a new day of hope, welcome for those who come looking for God, and for the church. I believe this will happen especially with Witness as such as Rae's. To all those that said that any change would be impossible and that the world would need to change, meet Rae.

    All my prayers to you, Rae, and all of Goodsoil this week!

    Ted (Yes the one lucky enough to meet her two years ago.)