A year in the life: Ministry and relationship with God

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Stephanie Dion

July 22 marked my one-year anniversary as an ordained minister.

I have learned a lot, struggled, experienced anxiety, been encouraged, fell flat, stood tall, and thought to myself more times than I care to admit, "I have no idea what I'm doing."

I am happy to say I have had more highs than lows in this past year and hope to have a long and fruitful ministry.

My biggest takeaway, a full year in, is that it is okay to not know what you are doing. It is okay to feel lost. It is okay to be unsure. It is okay, because we have a God who seeks the lost and celebrates the found.

This year I have discovered that my relationship with God is a lifelong game of hide and seek, an exercise in which I am constantly allowing my insecurities and failings to get in the way of believing I am deserving of God's grace.

It is a year in which I have discovered that no matter where I run, God continues to seek me, use me, and transform me. It is a year of learning to remember to pause and be in the presence of God - a year of learning these words as a mantra: "I am called. I am gifted. I am loved."

The minister of the chapel at Princeton Theological Seminary, Jan Ammon, gives her annual "imposter syndrome" sermon the first day of every academic year. She reminds students that they will at times believe that they are an imposter, that everyone else has it together, and that they do not belong.

Most people experience this feeling at some point in their lives, especially when in an environment where everyone portrays their best self - perhaps at work or school, on social media, in an organization they've joined, or maybe through their family or church.

When uncertainty prevails, it can be easy to fall into the trap of believing you are an imposter, to feed into the world's lie that you do not belong, to lose your sense of identity, to feel lost.

In the gospel of Luke, there are three parables of lost things: a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. Each are a reminder that God seeks the lost and celebrates the found.

The found are those who realize they are not imposters, those who acknowledge their identity in Christ and recognize that they are worthy of God's grace. I know that sounds so simple - like, just realize you are not an imposter, and ta-da!

This past year has underlined for me how tremendously difficult it is to overcome imposter syndrome. I have needed to lean heavily on God, and I know the learning and unlearning I have to do are not over yet.

In the rollercoaster of life and ministry, I must remind myself: "I am called. I am gifted. I am loved." In times that you yourself feel lost, I hope you will join me in repeating those words.

Stephanie Dion is an associate pastor at Lowcountry Presbyterian Church in Bluffton. LowcountryPres.org

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