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yeah well. I shouldn’t have expected that much affirmation anyway…

So I met with the new minister of the UU church yesterday.  It was an hour and a half long meeting.  I shared with her some specific events that shaped my life and why I wanted to be in ministry. 

She said, "well, you’re obviously very bright, or else you wouldn’t have been able to pull off the preaching for the Methodists…"  and, "I just don’t see that you have the maturity levels to be a UU minister…"  and "you’ve got a lot of growing to do before regional takes you seriously."  (regional is the regioinal committee on ministry:  you do a battery of psychological tests and interviews.  they decide whether or not the UU will ordain you.)

she also said that the reason why people see me as a twentysomething is because I present as if I still don’t have everything figured out…  that I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. 

I don’t disagree with the figuring out part – I still very much am trying to figure things out.  I just disagree that it’s a bad thing. 

yeah so she totally shot me down. 

there was mention of the previous minister, and my relationship with him.  she said other people in the congregation reported to her that the previous minister was "preaching to me" and that I would shout things out to him in the middle of his sermon.  which I did.  I explained to her that we both hailed from a call and response tradition – we were comfortable with that…  I didn’t explain it very well.  but it was cool with him…  it was cool with me.  and cool with at least one person who came up to me after a service and said, "I just love you!!!"  and told me to keep on affirming the previous minister’s message. 

the whole meeting was troubling.  and as a friend told me last night about what she said to me, "well, that’s just a slap in the face!"

so here’s the email I sent to her.  and below is the email I’d like to send to her…  (a la bunners)

Dear Rev. —-

I am very hurt and troubled by your pronouncements last evening that you don’t think I’m mature enough to be a UU minister, as well as your comment that you heard that Rev. Richard was preaching to me specifically.

It seems a fair conclusion to me that you had already had your opinion of me formed before we met, and that it was clearly not a favorable one. 

I think my agenda for the meeting was to get to know you a little better, and for you to get to know me, and that your agenda was an assessment of whether or not I was worthy for ordination.  I think there were some unrealistic expectations on my part about the meeting. 

I am still very obviously at the beginning of this journey towards ordination.  I would like to be taken seriously.  I think your critique that I need to present myself in a more professional manner is fair.  Perhaps I didn’t present my best, most-together self when we met last night.  I just wanted to show up as a person and give you a broad picture of my journey as a human being.  I hoped to be treated by you with kindness and compassion, and there was some of that.  But your comments toward the end really hurt my feelings. 

I am very unaccustomed to putting on airs, and I believe that I have value as an authentic, searching person.  Part of my healing work has been to be honest with myself and others about who I am, and I value and treasure that in myself and others. 

I think there are many models of an effective clergy person, and it seems that you and I are not of the same mold.  But does every minister need to be the same?  I don’t think so. 

Based on your assessment of me, I will strive to present myself to you in a more professional, put-together manner.  But I don’t think I trust you enough to be as honest with you as I was yesterday.  I’m not sure where the information I shared will go.  This saddens me a great deal.  I had hoped for some kind of healthy relationship with you.

Be well,

Anna Marie Martin

wishey letter:

dear person-who-sits-in-judgment:

epic fail.  epic fail to understand me and affirm me as a human being with ministerial aspirations. 

epic fail to give me a first chance.  to meet me as I present myself in my awesomeness and wholeness. 

whatever you had heard about me from other congregants, you should have given me a chance.  you should have met me without prejudice.  you should have been open to my experience.  you should have wanted to get to know me for yourself before forming a negative opinion of me.

you should take me seriously.

I would like to call you all sorts of names.  bi-otch.  ass.  prissy.  better-than-thou.  holier-than-thou.  smugger-than-thou.  favorite-picker.  nose-picker.  butt-picker.  meaney!  stupidhead!  all high and mighty with the power trip. 

I don’t however, believe that name-calling is productive to healthy relationships.  I’m not sure we can have a healthy relationship though.  maybe I should just get it off my chest.  and move on.

what hurts the most is that you didn’t give me a chance.  and in the touchy-feeley world of "organized religion," clergy are supposed to be all lovey-dovey and first-chance-givey. 

you fail.  you fail hard.  and I really hate the "this little light of mine" stupid-ass hand motions we sing every week.  and I really hate that you sing harmony though the microphone.  and I really hate that you’re all lovey-dovey with the people who drove R. out.  and I really hate that you’re not going to make the institutional changes that this congregation needs.  (maybe that’s preemptive to say that on my part.  maybe you will.  I want you to.  but I don’t think you have the stones to make the staffing changes that this congregation needs to be healthy.)

I think you fail.  and I think you’re mean.  and I’m super-sad that I tried to trust you with my story, and you didn’t honor it or me in the way I needed.  

No love, no love whatsoever,
anna

 

14 thoughts on “yeah well. I shouldn’t have expected that much affirmation anyway…”

    1. my christology is the largest factor preventing me from joining another church. I pretty much reject substitutionary atonement (e.g. christ died for MY sins.) yeah. I don’t believe I’m that sinful. I also just don’t want the kind of god who requires blood sacrifice. not so much on board with the blood sacrifice. jesus as paschal lamb, etc etc.

      and I need a LIBERAL, healthy, affirming church community. this church community has been unhealthy for a long time. it’s liberal. but it’s not healthy. it’s still got a lot of institutional issues which need clearing up.

      the road to ordination is never easy. but there needs to be some kind of avenue for the people who weren’t in the UU ministry when they were teenagers or children. (e.g. “I was in the church working in the church since I was like, 12, and I just knew I needed to be a minister.”) there needs to be avenues for spiritual seekers who have had a less linear spiritual and religious journey.

      people like me…

      Like

      1. yeah…

        i’m not so sure about that either, but more just from the sacrifice point of view. i just push it out of the way in favor of a more vague “forgiveness.” that’s easier now that i generally doubt jesus’ existence as a whole, not to mention the crucifixion story. i don’t think it’s important. god forgave people for being wholly stupid before all this without any problems.

        but, i’m a total depravity kind of person.
        all people are at least a little screwed up in every part. but i don’t believe it’s some kind of indelible “sin nature.”

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      2. well said.

        “god forgave people for being wholly stupid before all this without any problems.”

        nice.

        I think one of the tasks human beings are supposed to learn is how to do the same…

        and we don’t know how to forgive — it’s a hugely problematic topic for me. (e.g. forgive and forget can mean “you [the wronged one] forgive and I [the one who messed up] forget.”) and the whole genuine repentance thing – if you repent, you turn around, you change your ways. you don’t make the same mistake again. it’s hard. I’m a smoker, I know smoking is bad for me. I do it anyway. it’s a sin by me against my body. poor stewardship of my body, my greatest resource. but I do it anyway. I definitely need to quit. can’t seem to manage it.

        ugh.

        Like

  1. *pats your back*

    I’m sorry you felt shot down and unsupported/feelings hurt.

    If you don’t mind my two cents: I don’t think she shot you down at all. It seems like direct feedback from your closest resource- a whole hour and a half of – Good to Know (However Shitty). You met, you admitted you are looking to advance, and she told you her opinion as an established professional. It doesn’t seem much different than me asking for feedback from my grad instructors and getting clear (if painful) advice on how to proceed.

    Understand I’m not saying she was right or wrong about anything. Just that she gave you some valuable information. It also seems fair to note that you can learn from stuff that hurts your feelings. I hope it’s obvious that I don’t condone hurting feeling or believe that the truth must hurt. The hour and a half was complex, and you can spin it to find use.

    The call/response tradition issue seems cultural religious practice is clashing with regional religious culture. People on this side of the country are uncomfortable with religious charisma. They don’t want to be the center of attention so much that it must seem you are purposely drawing that attention. The minister calling you on it in this meeting sounds like, “We want to you to be like everyone else, be less obtuse, blend better.” Which is good to know, however shitty. If nothing else, it’s good to know this minster has no qualms about saying that sorta thing to you.

    Did you send the email?

    Like

    1. Re: *pats your back*

      thanks very much.

      I think you’re right that painful feedback can eventually be helpful… once you get over your hurt feelings.

      she did say after the immaturity comment: “that must have been hard to hear.” which is her acknowledging that it’s kind of a shitty thing to say but acknowledging her own need to say it anyway.

      I do things like that.

      I can imagine that the … what do I want to say? “the average western american stoic congregant” would be uncomfortable with a person making some noise in a worship service. especially when their minister is already an east coast liberal.

      what I can’t understand, and what I don’t like, is that she seemed to have formed an opinion about me based on what other people said – rather than giving me a chance on my own.

      that’s upsetting.

      and yes I did send the email. no response yet.

      except lots of love and support from friends (which is why I brought it up in the first place… cause I needed that…)

      🙂

      Like

      1. Yeah- you are having hurty feelers right now- hard to see the utility of anything in that.

        Love and support can be scratchy and uncomfortable. I don’t think immature is a shitty thing to say, but definitely a shitty thing to hear!

        I think we hear stuff all time time that can be hurtful and useful. I don’t think anyone has free range or obligation to say hurtful/useful things. I don’t think she was trying to be hurtful, but useful, and did not come from an unloving or unsupportive place.

        I don’t see how she could have NOT formed some sorta opinion- people do such things, she’s not a robot. She did share what “other people” had told her, shame on her for spreading hurtful gossip, thank her for telling you, whatever.

        She spent a good deal of time with you yesterday- that likely made a much bigger impression than the gossips. That and your follow-up email.

        I guess I feel like you might be harming your situation by maligning her, calling her a bitch and emailing rashly. It makes me a bit worried and I want to wave my arms around and yell,”WHOA ANNA! Slow down!”

        Like

      2. I sent her the first email. not the one with the name-calling. the one that starts dear rev — and ends with anna marie martin.

        sorry about the confusion.

        hopefully the conversation did impress her more than the gossip did. but two things:

        clearly a discussion about me has taken place; and clearly the person or persons who shared this with her have *not* spoken to me about it.

        it’s one thing to go to your pastor with a problem about a person; it’s quite another for the same pastor to report anonymous complaints (and/or gossip) back to the person who was complained about.

        she’s passing on a rumor; she’s perpetrating “nameless others who have this problem with me” (who have not come to me to talk with me about it, which would be the healthy thing to do); and she’s triangulating between these “nameless others” and me. which is also pretty unhealthy.

        the wishey letter was just me venting. I didn’t send her that one.

        and yes. thank you for your concern about me making the situation worse with insults. I didn’t do that. and I would love a hug. but I gotta go to my other job now…

        thanks and love!

        Like

      3. Maybe she should have told them to talk to you, and maybe she did. I don’t think it HAS to evil for her to tell you they complained or whatever. For my part, I want to know those things, especially in an employment situation! It seems less gossipy when I consider her administrative role and the professional guidance you were seeking. I’m pretty sure she’s not perpetuating by telling you about it!

        There’s no confusion- I know you sent the first and didn’t send the second email. Points stand. I think you vented in both, friend.

        Congrats again on the FigTree!

        Like

  2. Sorry for the delay. This has been on my mind and I am just now taking the time. First: I have not formed an opinion about said church. However, I have some strong feelings.

    I checked out Unity on 29th, yesterday. I really liked it. First impression, though. I need to give it several weeks before making up my mind. Maybe I’ll just visit both for a while.

    Our UU is weird. It’s not at all what I expected. I had super high hopes for it, though. For me it is far too “churchy”. I expect give and take with the congregation. I DO NOT want to be preached to. I want to have a communication. I want to receive what is being portrayed and give back immediate feedback. Also, the way the childrens portion is done, does not work for me. Making the kids sit through the beginning and announcements is not good for me or my kids. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. There is other stuff. I realize nothing is going to be a perfect match, so long as I live in the city I live in. I just had hoped for so much more. Like I said though, I’m not done with UU.

    I don’t have any words of wisdom in regards to your “eval?”. You seem very non-conformist to me. I think that might have much to do with your exchange with her. *shrug* I’m not good with confrontation. At all. I would have simply buckled, said thank you, and probably never gone back. At least not for a LONG time.

    Thinking ’bout you. ♥

    Like

    1. thanks very much.

      it’s hard to shop for denominations and the like. I wish that it were easier to find a liberal, feel-good congregation that had potential to meet all your needs…

      it just bothers me that she pre-judged me. totally and had no favorable opinion about me when we met.

      also it bothers me that other people in my congregation were complaining ABOUT me rather than TO me. my response to that, pretty much, is GROW UP.

      Like

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