Problem, though. They wanted to drive down all day on Monday, do the "get-together" all day Tuesday, and then drive back Tuesday night. Um, no. First of all, I'd be super crabby by the time we got back, because that is way too much time in the car, and so not enough time with Gigantor Church or people who live in Gigantor Church Town. Second, I've been looking for a chance to get back to College Town, which is an easy drive from Gigantor Church Town.
So instead of driving down with the Big Church staff on Monday, I left Sunday right after church and headed for College Town. I had dinner with an old college professor and his wife, spent the night with my college roomie, and then coffee in the morning with another former professor. Then I headed over to campus and spent some time wandering around there, and ended up having lunch my major-department secretary. Then I hit the road to Gigantor Church Town, got my oil changed at the best place ever, met Big Church staff at the hotel, and then we all had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Phenomenal.
Tuesday was the "get-together" with staff from about 10 other "big churches." There were tours of the building, a worship service, lunch, and some hangout-with-your-interest-group time. By mid-afternoon, we were ready to head out. I met my BFF for a quick dinner, and then hit the road for Seminary Town. Spent the night with friends on the floor of a dorm room, visited one of my parishioners in the hospital (total God thing that one of my people from my intern congregation would be having surgery at this out-of-town hospital right when I was going to be there), grabbed a very fast lunch with my CPE group, swung by discipleship group, met with my advisor to work on my class schedule, and then hit the road back to Small Town for the Church School Easter Pageant.
Wow. Okay. So, takeaways from this crazy four days:
- There is a very large part of my heart that is in College Town. An extremely large part. Simply put, it is home for me. When I came around the curve of the interstate and saw the first big green sign that said College Town, with the down arrow for the right lane, I breathed a sigh of relief just to be there.
- My college professors are awesome, and they know me so well. I had really been stressing about a lot of things, and they were able, separately, but sort of together, to pull it all out of me and help me get my head on straight.
- Rural ministry is not for me. And it is okay to say that.
- "Pick up your cross and follow me," "deny yourself," and "sacrifice" does not mean "Make yourself miserable for Jesus." "A new creation" does not mean "continue to reject/not use the gifts God has given you because you think that they/you are 'not good enough,' and cram yourself into a lifestyle/career that is really not what you're suited/called to, because you're convinced that God 'wants to make you into a new creation.'" Taking on a career and a life and a calling that you are passionate and joyful about is not selfish, elitist, or arrogant. The "different members" of the body of Christ is for real. If you're an arm, be an awesome arm, and don't worry about whether you're supposed to be a liver, or whether God would love you more if you were a spleen. Just be a fabulous arm.
- God loves me. When Awesome Senior Pastor of Gigantor Church preached at worship on Tuesday, he said lots of great things, I'm sure, but what I heard, that I remembered, was "I know we're all church people and we're used to judging other people's sermons instead of listening to them, but for today, please just hear that God loves you." I had not heard this in a very, very long time. It was very nice to hear.
- I think I am a strange introvert. I need the quiet time to "recharge", but too much quiet time and I turn into a crazy person. I need people around me. I need friends and relatives and engaging conversation and intellectual stimulation.
- I'm definitely looking forward to being back on campus - I just wish that so many of my friends weren't in the class below me and thus, going to be gone on internship when I get back.