Friday, April 29, 2011

Hold On, Let Go

"In my Father's house, there are many rooms . . ."  John 14:2.
The last couple months have been really hard for me.  I feel like I have been stripped bare, and like I have to figure out who I am again.  A couple things contributed to this. 

First, I began coming out as bisexual:  by finally admitting it to myself and then by telling friends and family.  The responses ranged from wonderfully supportive and compassionate to downright awful, and I sometimes felt like a very small boat in a big storm.

Second, I engaged in some of the most painful and draining public ministry of my life.  I am still processing everything that happened, and I think that I will be for a while.  I know that I did my best to be faithful, but everything about the experience was hard.

Earlier this week, I met with my care committee.  It was not an easy meeting because I was in so much pain, but I felt much clearer afterward.  Here is a slightly revised version of an email that I sent the following day.  It was extremely hard to write, but it feels right:

Dear Friends,

In meeting with my care committee last night, it became clear to me (and I think to everyone) that I need to lay down traveling ministry.  I am still planning to visit Capitol Hill Friends in May, but after that, I know that I need to stay home and be where I am.

This is really hard for me because I love traveling ministry.  I have never felt so alive as I have when traveling among Friends.  But I am tired and depleted, and no longer feeling called to this work.  It is also hard because I am realizing how much being a traveling minister has become a part of my identity.  But I know that, whether I travel or not, I am still a beloved child of God.

This means that I will not be able to attend the workshop for young Friends traveling in the ministry at FGC Gathering.  I am sorry that I won't be there and sorry to disappoint those I told I would go.  My heart still longs to meet with other young Friends in a second day meeting, but I am clear that doing that within the context of the FGC Gathering would not be good for my soul.

I hope that the ways that I have helped spread the word about the workshop have been helpful.  Friends are welcome to use my paper on traveling ministry in any way they wish, and everyone gathered in this meeting will be in my prayers.

With love,
 Ashley

5 comments:

  1. Thinking of you with love and prayer. I am thankful I got to meet you in your travels. Sometimes being a seed means traveling, sometimes it means digging into the earth. <3

    ReplyDelete
  2. Friend, the road can be relentless, and traveling in ministry can be so disorienting at times. I am so glad you have your care committee and I appreciate you being open about the process of transition. What struck me most in your post is the statement about being a traveling minister may have become (too much?) part of your identity. I admire you for looking at all this and not ignoring it and moving onto to the next presentation. It would be easy to coast along. Even in this you minister, you model for others, you do the work. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Colleen - Thank you for your love and prayers. I am glad that we got to meet too and I hope that our paths will continue to cross.

    Peterson - Thank you for this affirmation, and for the work you do in traveling among Friends. It is hard work, and I am grateful that we can support each other wherever we are in this journey.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Ashley - I am sorry we will not be able to meet in person at the FGC gathering - but this path and your decisions seem very right to me at this time. Rest and refelction are parts of our Journeys too - and I am reminded in reading your post today how again and again I need to be taught that lesson. You are in my prayers. =) Kathleen

    ReplyDelete