It's hard for me to believe that six months ago Suzanne and I showed up at Downtown Church on a cold January morning for our first day of work. I remember two things from that morning that at the time seemed inconsequential. I remember standing in front of my closet considering what to wear to work. For almost five years this question never slowed me down. Matching a dark suit is easy, especially when your options for a dress shirt are blue or white. As long as my bow-tie wasn't out of season I could dress with my eyes closed. But on my first day of work as the Organizing Pastor of a new downtown church my closet of dark suits, monochrome shirts, and shiny shoes was causing a dilemma I hadn't anticipated. I remember standing in my underwear while staring nervously at my wardrobe for a second more than my manhood could naturally endure before realizing nobody would care what I wore, and that's the point. But even this conclusion ignores the more pressing questions and the obvious metaphor; this new journey would be more different than I imagined and would challenge the most basic assumptions I maintained about church, including the pastor's costume. Was I ready? No. Did it matter that I wasn't ready? No.
My other memory consists of a text message I sent Suzanne before she arrived. I told her to dress comfortably because we had to put our desks together. In the last six months we've gutted our office and rebuilt it, but on that first day, I didn't know that my job description included carpentry. I haven't asked Suzanne what she did when she got the bizarre text, but I presume she wasn't expecting it. I never considered I'd need to send it. At my last church someone vacuumed my office floor each day and wiped down my desk that was built by a professional. Since then, things have changed. Was I ready? No. Did it matter that I wasn't ready? No. Just last week the two of us had move our couch down two flights of stairs. It was a workers comp. claim waiting to happen and still might if my forearms don't stop shaking while I type.
I'm a different pastor now than I was in January. But that's not surprising. What makes me laugh is not the degree but the kind of transformation I've experienced. I believe God is laughing as well. That's what God does when he confounds our expectations and reminds us that he is more than a bystander. Too often we think we can shape our various journeys. However, I'm learning that it's more likely that our various journeys will shape us.
Six months in, it still feels like I'm standing in my underwear and staring nervously ahead while wondering what to do. The difference is that now I'm not as scared to try on something new.