When I was a little girl I used to go to my grandmother’s house in the summer and watch her knit, crochet, and work with yarn. I remember her taking the yarn out of the package and making a ball of it. The yarn slid through her fingers into this ball like structure and from there she was able to create beautiful pieces of art: washcloths, scarfs, hats, afghans, and clothes for my dolls. She could take a mess of yarn and turn it into a beautiful creation.
As It think about the creations of our lives, leadership, and ministry I am reminded of this ball of yarn metaphor. I think about the hook which is needed, the yarn, the creativity of the artist, and the patience to work with the yarn. I have seen how God has taken beautiful yarn and made something even more beautiful. God often sees our internal worth before we do. God has surely loved us before we even knew and comprehended. Oh, how beautiful that love is! How how wonderful it is, to know that God loves you just as you are. You don’t have to be anything else or wear a mask. God called you because you are a woman who is loved by God. Wow!
Now, yarn projects do not always start out neat and ordered. Similarly, in ministry it often feels messy, chaotic, and out of order. I love pretty bows and neatly packaged boxes. But guess what? Sometimes your life calling is not a pretty bow or neatly ordered life package. Sometimes its messy, a messy sort of beautiful. Maybe our imperfections are beautiful.
I remember sometimes when the yarn would get out of order when my grandma was crocheting. I occasionally work with yarn, and sometimes I try to skip the step of making the yarn ball. Last year I was making a scarf and I remember the yarn getting all tangled up, and me needing to straighten it out. I also forgot to count a few of the loops, and the scarf ended up being a little off balance. Sometimes life is messy. Sometimes things get out of order. Especially for women in leadership, it can often feel like the ball of yarn is all tangled up. As women face their own insecurities, issues with internal worth, and finding and living into the authority from God and community to walk into their callings, sometimes it feels all “tangly.”
Ministry creation is also a slow process. I remember sitting in the coffee shop for several hours on end making that scarf. It was not just a moment of “bing” the scarf appeared. Callings and ministry take time and dedication. It is a constant process of waking up, and believing “I am called by God.” It is a relationship of trust, and the behind the scenes prayer life and living out the holiness often verbally expressed. It is not lights, cameras, and action. It is not even about preaching in a pulpit, although I do believe there is a lot of good that comes from preaching. But ministry is way more than that. Being called a lot of times means leaning into the mystery, the uncertain, and walking by faith into unknown territories. Ministry is stepping outside of yourself at times, and seeing the needs of others. Ministry is holding a hand of the dying, and sometimes scrubbing the church kitchen down and reorganizing, and often preparing the church bulletin (even if it is on a Saturday night). This is real ministry. It’s getting dirty, living into the messiness of humanity, and being okay with imperfection (cause guess what? none of us are perfect).
And, there is no magical moment when you just “become” a female leader, pastor, or minister. You don’t just wake up one day and get invited to speak around the country. Actually, most of us will never be invited to speak around the country and that does not make our calling or ministry any less than those who do, just different. Ministry is a slow process of ups and downs, worries and joys, fears and confidences, support and discouragement, and feelings of loneliness and feeling loved by community. It is a messy ball of yarn, waiting to be worked with, crafted into, and someday maybe a beautiful scarf will appear. Yah, that’s real ministry, a big mess! So, do you still want to be a female leader and minister? Because the road is not going to be easy, but God will be with you. It’s not always going to be fun, but there will be times of great joy. And you will most likely feel tired at times, but let God’s Holy Spirit and presence guide and renew you. But rest assured, that God who began a beautiful work in you will complete it. One day, we might here the words “It Is Finished” or even “Well Done Thou Good and Faithful Servant.” So be faithful in your calling, and more than anything sit in the presence of God and be renewed.
Copyright 2017 Crystal Schmalz Ministries and Women of Vision Leadership