I am a minister.
That statement has an air of unreality about it today.
I worked for nine years to get to this point. When I began nine years ago I didn't think I would end up here. Actually, that's a bit of an understatement. I ABSOLUTELY DID NOT have minister on my list of things to do. I hated church, disrespected organized religion, and really thought that the entire system of religious authority and religion needed to be overhauled and revised. I wanted no part of it. When I began this journey nine year ago, I simply wanted to enlarge my spiritual life. I was depressed, and not in a very good place. I'd been sober for over 15 years and I felt a bit stuck.
So I decided to begin taking classes at my local Center for Spiritual Living (CSL). I'd taken other classes, and they helped, but there was always something about them that ruffled my feathers. One class was very valuable in teaching me a great form of meditation, but when they began talking about guarding ourselves from all the dangerous influences when we meditated, I was out of there. I didn't want a lifestyle where I felt I had to be on guard. CSL seemed to fit perfectly. It was spirituality without the New Age woo woo trappings, and without the dogma of more traditional religions. I loved it, and from the first class I knew that I was going to pursue becoming a Practitioner.
Being a Practitioner in CSL means being a type of coach. The work interested me, and I knew it would help me. It takes about two years of prerequisite classes to become eligible for Practitioner classes, which is a two year course of study. That was the first four years of my journey. I became a Practitoner and was happy as a clam. I converted a room behind my photography studio into an area to meet clients and started a life coaching business.
Then the calling began. They say being a minister is a calling, that no one would ever choose such a thing. I know it's not like that for everyone, but it is for me. But when the calling begins, that inner nudge that just won't go away, in fact it gets louder and louder, you have to heed it. Then the outer nudges began. People began asking me when I was going to begin ministerial school. My grandmother came right out and told me I had to go, and offered to pay my tuition. That's a big deal in a Masters Degree program. So I heeded the inner and outer calls, and I went.
For almost 5 years, I studied, attended classes in person at the Holmes Institute campus in Santa Rosa, attended other classes via phone and video conference, studied a ton of books, wrote a ton of papers, did about 20 internships, went on student retreats, and immersed myself in my studies. I used mentors and prayer partners and other Practitioners as my coaches, and opened myself up to all that the program had to offer.
It changed me the same way the 12 steps did back in the beginning of my recovery: at a very deep profound level, from the inside out.
I got my Masters Degree in June, I successfully paneled and received my license as a CSL minister the first week in August, and yesterday, I was unanimously elected to be the new Spiritual Leader of the Center for Spiritual Living Carson City.
As one of my minister friends likes to say, "what a trip."
So off I go on this journey of being a minister. I'm excited about my counseling practice, since I've graduated I've been blessed to have a whole new batch of wonderful clients. And this part time job at CSL allows me to do the others things I love to do: speak and teach. So, I'm counseling, speaking and teaching, and life is pretty good!
Now, I'm in a position to help you. Are you getting a nudge to do something different? Perhaps it's more like a big push? Or maybe you are ready for a change in your life? Do you pay attention to those calls when they come? Or do you simply push them aside? What is up for you today?