My path to ministry may very well have been determined at my baptism, but I must have taken the scenic route because it wasn’t until I was in my fifties that I finally heard the call. And when I did finally find myself in seminary, to my dismay, I was still holding every suitcase, duffle bag, cosmetic case and garment bag I had ever used during my travels. That’s the long way of saying that I was carrying a lot of baggage. But God had mercy and appointed a special person to help me carry my luggage until I could finally muster up enough courage to set some of it down – that person was Polly. Polly is incredibly special to me precisely because she never once insisted or even suggested that I set any of my baggage down; she just cheerfully scooped up some of my load and began to talk my ear off as we started walking side-by-side together.
I had no idea what I was getting into when I said yes to God’s call. I hadn’t even been back in church a year yet, and I was still trying to make sense out of being called in the first place. About the only thing I was clear on the fact that I had been called and that no matter what I would seek to serve God to the very best of my ability. Polly had been a part of the church all her life, and she had been a minister for 15 years up to that point. She was my mom’s pastor, and when my mom learned I was going into seminary of course nothing would do but that I talk to Polly about it. I didn’t know why I needed to, but to make my mom happy I did, and my life was never the same again.
With Polly I have cried buckets of tears and been a big slobbery mess so many times that I have lost count. She never once told me what I was doing wrong, or what I needed to do – she always told me what I was doing right and impressed upon me that I am a child of God, and I am enough. She would get mad with me at the people who hurt my feelings; she would stay up late with me helping me hone my theological thinking; she was always on my side no matter what, and as we went along I found it easy to discard items here and there that had been weighing me down. And one magical day, I realized for myself what she had been telling me all along: that I am enough; I have always been enough, and I always will be enough.
Today I am a Pastor because someone cared enough to accept me as I was knowing that God was busy doing great things in me. I was a mess, but Polly only saw my potential. I had a heavy load but she helped me carry it and didn’t say a word when I either would or would not leave things behind. Through her I have learned to listen to people and to see them the way God sees them and love them the way God loves them. Polly is my mentor, but more than anything else she is my friend and I love her with all my heart.