Don’t Box Me In

Me when it feels like someone is expecting an older version of me

For just over three years, I had the luxury of working in a local ministry environment. The final year of this journey had me step into a new church environment while my family remained with our home congregation. I would hear rumours of people asking where I was, why wasn’t I present at Church A and so on. Hubby would politely answer that I was doing well, thanks for asking with a gentle reminder that I was serving at Church-Ministry B,

Now that the ministry role has come to a close, I have been attending Church A with Hubby and fam. Some have smiled and said hello. Others share a hug and “it’s nice to see you.”

A few though ask the question.

“Are you coming back to Church A?”
“I see you here a lot now. Does that mean you’re coming back?”

It took some time for me to determine why these particular questions set my hackles up. After all, they were trying to communicate that I had been missed and that they appreciated having me present. What my spirit felt was my new self being pushed into an old box.

The old box of who they thought I was before I went into the mission field. The old box of Robyn fitting in. I can’t say for certain what that Robyn looked like, only that this version is different. This version sees the world differently, is not willing to compromise on who she is to ‘fit in’. This Robyn is more willing to speak up, to speak truth – in love and with gentleness but truth openly instead of hiding in case it make someone not like her. This Robyn has more ink, more attitude and more courage.

And she wants to stay that way.

Some will read all this and say it’s over-reacting. “Just take the welcome and the encouragement.”

How about we change the question. Instead of “are you coming back?” ask “Will you be joining us this summer?” or “Will we see you more? We’ve missed you.” Even better though, a statement then a question: “It is so nice to see you! How was your time in ministry? Did God do amazing things you can share?”

I’ll own it. Over-reaction and all. The word “back” sinks my gut and rips apart my heart. Ask me about my time in ministry. Get to know me as I am now.

Or don’t.

Just don’t box me in.

You: Vulture. Pohtaytoe: Pohtahtoh

Before you turn away in disgust, never to visit this blog again, hear me out.

God made a unique creature to fill a very specific role, a purpose only for them. He gave them a very specific collection of attributes necessary to complete their task. Often, this creature is considered unusual, unconventional. It doesn’t fit the mold, does its own thing and when it does that thing that God designed it to do, lives are saved.

While that paragraph is written around the nature of vultures, we too are uniquely created, designed for a specific role, a purpose, and have been (or will be) given the attributes, gifts and skills needed to fulfill that God assigned purpose. I rarely fit expectations or maybe I just don’t feel like I fit. But when I am actively choosing to do the things that I know God has put me in place to do, I feel like I’m soaring. My whole being knows I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. It doesn’t matter the success or failure, hurdles, hurts or challenges.

Vultures have a reputation. Ugly, vile, repulsive. They eat dead things after all. But that is their purpose. And to do that God designed them with no feathers on their heads, necks or feet so they don’t retain bacteria. They are the only birds with the sense of smell needed to locate their task and the acidity in their digestive system kills every deadly disease they consume including things that would kill you or I with only a drop.

In the heat of the day, they can see the thermals rising from the earth – those wavy lines of heat we can see only when they’re rising off the road in the summer – and using only those currents, stay aloft for hours and travel for miles without flapping their wings. Elegant, drifting, floating.

So yes. disgusting and ugh. I get it that no one wants to be compared to such a thing. But I do.

God created. Unique. Purposeful. Soaring. Elegant.

(For an excellent read about vultures and condors, try “Vultures. Nature’s Ghastly Gourmet” by Canadian author Wayne Grady)