Here I am, halfway through my third semester in seminary. I'm sipping a macchiato at Sisters Coffee Company in the Pearl district of Portland.
Is this real life? I have literally pinched myself throughout these past weeks.
I leaked this whole summer; the tears seemed like they would continuously be present behind my hazel eyes (why yes that was a Kelly Clarkson quote).
I have only cried once in the last 1.5 months and it was because I am so deliciously satiated currently. I wept for happiness; those tears felt so different than the pain of last spring and this summer.
I feel as if all the pieces are coming together for what it means to be Kaitlin. I ask the questions that burn on my tongue when I'm class; I readily share my opinion. I am learning to be authentically me in all situations, whether I'm chatting with a regular customer at Yali's cafe or puzzling over God's authority in my 8am systematic theology course. When I alb up to be an assistant minister at my Teaching Parish congregation (Holy Trinity in San Carlos) or the PLTS Wednesday chapel service, I feel a smile tickling my lips rather than the familiar fear that had previously paralyzed me.
Each day no longer feels like a constant wrestling with God; I hadn't even realized that I was wrestling until I felt the calm of congruence. Of course I am still exhausted now; the busy GO GO GO schedule that I have created for myself in Berkeley weighs on me as I try to find time to work on my studies while having time for myself and the people I care for. I have plenty of worries and doubts that circle in my mind. Yet I am comfortable in sharing the fears about theology that might break my resolution. In telling my perspective of faith and doubt, I am calmed in the constant tension. I am comfortable with the push/pull of not fully understanding anything in this world.
Last year, I tried to absorb the parts of the Lutheran tradition and Christianity fully, hoping that if I did so, I would feel as if I fit into this role of spiritual leader. Doing so destroyed my soul. Now I know that I am always going to be me; I am my best Kaitlin when I am honest with myself and my professors/peers about what I believe. I am true to myself. Now I continue to wrestle with God and the people around me, but I am bringing all of me to the table rather than who I thought I should be.
I am pulling all of the pieces of Kaitlin together and letting them fit or not fit together. I find myself not worrying about being the bubbly, sociable Kaitlin but rather just being someone who genuinely cares about people yet doesn't need to be the center of attention. I'm working on taking some of the pressure I put on myself to be liked by everyone and rather being healthy about my own time and focusing on my precious people.
I feel congruence in my bones; that feeling is so wonderful that I cannot even begin to express how joyful I am to be able to write that.
Does that mean I'm done growing? Uh, FUCK THAT. I've got plenty of insecurities, vulnerabilities, and stumbling blocks ahead of me. But I'm certainly relishing in the imperfect beauty of contentment with myself.
I've been rereading my journal from these past 9 months and I steep in the pervasive loneliness that permeates from my previous entries. I glanced at my writing from this semester and the transformation is deeper than I ever could have imagined. I'm glad for a step back during this reading week vacation in Portland to soak in all of the ways that I have morphed through all of the self-reflection and leaking that has occurred for me during these past 9 months.
I am Kaitlin and I am a minister in many aspects of my life, but that does not mean that the things that defines me is the word minister. I am spiritual when I overuse the word fuck; I am a woman who asserts my faith and theological perspective; I am strong in my vulnerability; I am adventurous and I am precious. And so are you, dear reader; you are adored and loved because you are you.