God Leads By Your Heart's Desire
But sometimes the heart is like a puppy on a leash. The puppy is really happy to be out with her person and really wants to go on the walk but she sits down or she tries to go the other way or she whines. Somehow she doesn't trust that the hand holding the leash will take care of her or knows which way to go. My heart was the puppy on the leash. Religion, especially feminist theology, has always been my passion, my heart's desire.
Not Following God's Lead
When it was time to go to college I knew I had to go to Chapman and study religion. I got my BA in religion. I was called to go to graduate school or seminary, but like the puppy who tries to go the other way I did not trust that the hand on the leash knew which way to go. Instead I moved back to the desert to substitute teach. The stated goal was to pay off my student loans before going to graduate school. A couple at the church I attended went to seminary. I could hardly stand to be in the same room with them because I wanted to go to seminary so badly. A pastor at a church in Big Bear left her congregation to "follow her call" to a church in the mid-west. I couldn't read the article in the newspaper. I knew I wasn't following my call.
Eventually I got my multiple subject teaching credential and began a career in elementary education. When it came time to get an MA, so I could move over on the pay scale, I said to my husband, "Well, I better find an MA in religion program. It is the only thing I have ever wanted to study." I got that MA from Liberty University.
I continued to feel called to the study of religion. I thought it was a Ph. D. I was called to until one day I saw an advertisement in a publication titled, Christian Century. The add seemed to have my name on it. It said, "Paula. do you long to study international feminist theology with women from around the world?" Oh, yes please! So I got my Dr. of Ministry in International Feminist Theology and went back to kindergarten.
I have a favorite quote from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas. It says, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."
Sometimes God Has To Tug On The Leash
My last two years of teaching were very difficult. I won't go into details about my next to last year except to say I had a very difficult group of children. My last year I had the most wonderful group of children and the most difficult group of parents I had ever experienced. One afternoon, after a particularly difficult encounter with a parent I walked from my classroom to the office and said, "God, why am I having such a hard time with these parents? With children like these I could do this forever." That still, small voice that I am getting better at listening to said, "Paula, you are not supposed to be here." "Oooooooh!"
So I retired. I think of it as I finally graduated from kindergarten. I wrote the book that had been banging on the inside of my chest to get out. I brought forth what was within me and it saved me. My book recently received a gold medal from Illumination Book Awards. I am realizing my heart's desire.
The puppy on the leash is no longer sitting down or whining or trying to go the other direction. The puppy on the leash is trotting happily along, trusting that the hand on the leash knows the way to go and will take care of her.