Join me in welcoming our first contributor of the year, Laura de Jong - and while you're at it, congratulate her on the very exciting news she shares in this week's Women in Ministry post!
If I’m perfectly honest, I feel rather unqualified to contribute to this series. I’m not ordained – far from it – I don’t have years of ministry experience, and I don’t have a blog. I’m not even finished my under-graduate studies. But perhaps that’s why I wanted to write. I have not yet had to face a congregation that would silence my voice, nor have I applied to churches and been turned away because of my sex. And yet, for the last four years, I have been wrestling with fear and doubt about my calling. The idea of becoming a pastor is terrifying enough. Add rejection, disapproval, or awkward conversations because I’m a woman, and I’m halfway down the road to Tarshish.
And yet, I have not turned coat on God’s calling for my life. God, in his infinite grace, has placed beautiful people in my life that remind me every day that He called me for a reason. Two years ago I was a Resident Assistant in one of the dorms at Calvin College. I was sitting in my RD’s office on my own, reading an online article summarizing the progress of women in office in the Christian Reformed Church, of which I am a member. It was a rather disheartening article, but worse were some of the comments. By the time I got to the anonymous comment claiming female preachers were a direct result of the fall, I was in tears, and remained so for quite some time. It was the first time since feeling the nudge towards ordained ministry that I had really broken down. And it was a moment when God proved his love in the form of perfect timing. As I sat bawling on the couch, two other RAs walked in having just completed rounds through the building. That night, very unusually, they happened to be two males, one a sociologist, the other an advocate for the LGBTQ community, both two men in my life who whole-heartedly support my decision to become a pastor. They plunked down beside me on the couch, wrapped me in their arms, and said, “Laura, you’re going to be a kick-ass pastor.” It was a moment I hold onto dearly.
I hold onto this story because it grounds me. It’s easy to get caught up in the anonymous comments and the stories of rejection, and to forget the many people in my life that are cheering me on. After voicing some of my fears to my dad, he very wisely told me, “But Laura, those congregations won’t call you. The congregation that does call you will love you for who you are. So really, why worry about it?” I’ve often thought that we need more support groups for women who are simply thinking about entering ministry. I still think this is the case, but now I realize that God has given me an unofficial support group in the many women I know who are exploring their calling, and who share their trials and triumphs on blogs, Facebook posts, or coffee conversations.
Four weeks ago, I was accepted to Calvin Theological Seminary. I was pretty certain of my acceptance, and yet when I got the email, I celebrated. In the words “you have been admitted here,” my place as a leader in our denomination was being affirmed. I was in. I belonged. But if I really think about it, my role in the church has been affirmed my entire life through the encouragement and affirmation of God’s children. And so, as you and I read the entries still to come this year, look for the support groups in each post. Remember and give thanks for the people that sit next to you on the couch and tell you that you’re a rockstar. And every day, praise the God that brings those people into your life.
Laura de Jong is a senior at Calvin College studying History, Congregational and Ministry Studies, and English. She cheers for Team Canada during the world series, eats stroopwaffels and Dutch peppermints with alarming regularity, and can name almost all fifty states. When she isn’t reading about a revolution, she’s researching ecumenism, listening to stories, or making ice cream runs with her housemates. She’ll be starting a Masters of Divinity in the fall, and hopes to become ordained in the Christian Reformed Church.
About the Women in Ministry Series
The Women in Ministry Series is a collection of guest posts that aims to:
Provide an alternative to the women in ministry debates by telling the stories of women in ministry. Encourage women to explore their God-given callings.
Contributions Welcome: Contact Katherine to pitch your post idea in 2-4 sentences. You can stay updated on the latest post each week by signing up for the weekly e-mail list.
Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome to leave a comment. However, this series takes for granted that women are called by God into every facet of ministry. This is not the place to debate that point and such comments will be removed. Women have been told “no” in far too many places. This is one place that is committed to saying “yes.” For more about the comment policy or submitting your own story, read here.
Next Week’s Blogger: Christianne Squires