Monday, December 31, 2018

Transitional Year- 2018 Review

When the year, 2018, began, the first thing I did was take a class called “Transitions in Ministry and Life”. It was a class designed to help those graduating from seminary better understand how ministry is full of transitions and how transitions can be very disruptive to our lives if we don’t know how to make sense of them. It could not be a more fitting class to begin the year as I would soon find myself in a very transitional year.

When I say, “Transitional year”, I mean that your entire life narrative or a major part of it concludes and is now preparing for the next chapter in your life story.

Transitions are the in between times from one part of your narrative to the next part of your narrative. And while that seems simple, transitions are anything but simple. They are very complicated and honestly very messy at times. They can be confusing, especially when you have no idea what the next chapter is going to be. They can be frustrating as you have to wait until the transition is over, when sometimes you don’t know when it’s going to be over. And it can seem isolating, especially if the transition includes a physical change from a place you have known to a new place where you know no one.

For me, the transition was more than just the conclusion of a section of my life. It was also the end of a purpose that drove much of my actions for a good chunk of my life. I had the goal since graduating high school to get my education: first my Bachelors and then my Masters. Then I had the goal of becoming an ordained minister. Both goals were met this year, with great celebration! However, I was not prepared with a new life goal to drive me forward, which made the rest of the transitional year very confusing, frustrating, and isolating.

Have you ever gone through a transitional year or perhaps just moments in your life that felt like a huge transition? It can be very demanding on our spirits, at least that’s been my experience with transitions thus far. And I honestly believe that if I had a better spiritual life, the impact of the transitional year might not have hit me as bad.

The hard, cold fact is that transitions are a factor of life. We can’t avoid them and honestly, we probably shouldn’t avoid them. Transitions can be a Divine blessing or whirlwind of chaos in our lives. It all comes down to how we stabilize ourselves within the transitions, be it through our spiritual disciplines or through the relationships we commit to or faith/trust we bring ourselves during times of doubt and confusion.

I can’t say I have the true final answer to how we handle our transitions, because every transition is different, just as every person’s life and story is different.

But I do want to offer you this message of hope: If you are in a transitional period in your life and you are unsure of yourself or if things will ever get better or if you will ever find your way…You will.

I believe you are going to be okay. It may take a while and sometimes many life lessons must be learned before you find yourself out of the confusing transitions in life, but I have hope that you will make it through and find new growth on the other side.

It’s a message I must remind myself all the time as well and I believe am going to have to keep reminding myself as I begin to enter a new year, full of possibly more transitions and more challenges in my life.

The year of 2018 has brought on many new events, challenges, and blessings.

I took my last semester at Brite Divinity School, taking classes such as Transitions in Life and Ministry; Angels and Demons; Foundations of Preaching; Pastoral care with Grief and Loss; and Supervised ministry. The transitions class continues in the form of three day retreats throughout the year and so far, I have gotten to participate in two retreats in 2018.

I continued my work as ministry intern at Ridglea Christian Church, where I provided ministry to the youth and adults every week. I would then conclude my ministry with the church in May and expressing my unending thanks for the many blessings and teachings the church had brought to me over the last two years.

In May, I graduated from Brite Divinity with my Masters in Divinity as well as received my certificate for Pastoral Care studies.

At the beginning of May, I sat in on my final Commission on Ministry meeting where in the end they approved me for ordination. On June 23, my church families of Wake Forest Christian Church, St. Paul’s Christian Church, the Region of North Carolina, and even some representatives from Ridglea Christian Church all gathered together in Raleigh to bestow upon me the office of ordained ministry and blessed me with the task to minister to all of God’s children through peace, mercy, compassion, and love.

Before my ordination, I had the sweet joy of traveling to Pennsylvania and witnessing my youngest cousin, the one whom I remember seeing two days after her birth on my 7th birthday, graduate high school.

After my ordination, I began my act of ordained ministry by having the honor of directing CYF conference at Christmount, having the pleasure of working beside some of the greatest counselors out there and being blessed to have Renae Brame be our week keynoter.

Both before and after CYF, I spent my entire summer working at Christmount, serving with the kitchen staff as well as the front office staff, assisting with the summer programs until August. During the summer months, I also had the honor of preaching at various congregations including: FCC Black Mountain, FCC Fayetteville, and Wake Forest Christian Church.

When the summer ended, I journeyed back to Texas and began my first ministry placement which was at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, working as a Chaplain Resident. This experience has allowed me to expand my pastoral care skills but has given me insight and wisdom of who I am as a minister and where God is leading me moving forward.

I have also been blessed by having the opportunity to preach around the Texas region including at: FCC Cleburne, FCC Richland Springs; FCC Woodson; and Ridglea Christian Church. A sad honor I also participated in was the memorial service of Don Wisdrofer, a retired minister I knew at Ridglea, who parted with me his own stoles and much of his wisdom from his ministry before he passed away.

All these events, both the wonderful and not so wonderful, I cherish in my heart because they continue to grow my life forward and hopefully help me to be a better person every day.

So as we get ready for a new year, a new chapter for all of us, may we not be afraid of the transitions that we have either gone through, are going through, or will go through, but have the hope that we will make it through them and become better on the other side and in the end.

Peace be upon you and may you always love the Ruah that lives within you. Blessed be.