Those of you who know me well know that I am not a fashionista. Though I manage to look pulled-together, that comes with a lot of help – mostly from my patient, much more fashionable husband. I am constantly asking if things match, if certain shoes go with a particular outfit, or if certain accessories are right. Over the years, my husband has learned to push me out of my comfort zone (as much as I will allow). But in trying new looks or styles, invariably the question arises, “Is this me?”
As I have gotten older, I have begun to realize that I am the only one who can answer that question, “Is this me?” Sometimes the answer is an obvious, “No!” If I do not like the message the outfit sends, or if I know I will be fidgeting from discomfort, then I will never be confident in the look. But sometimes the answer is, “It could be – if you want it to be.” An outfit that obviously fits into your comfort zone does not need analyzing. It is safe. But one that is neither safely in the comfort zone nor way out of the comfort zone is in that sweet spot where you have to decide how bold and creative you want to be. Because sometimes those new shoes bring out something adventurous in you. Sometimes that new dress makes you a bit more self-assured. And sometimes that accessory pulls out something inside of you that you did not realize was there.
That question, “Is this me?” is the same question Hickory Neck has been asking in these last months. We have been through a pretty tremendous transition in leadership and identity. When I started in April, many of you wondered what having a female rector with young children would look like. Holding on to the memories of our two most recent rectors, and looking at this new rector, many of us wondered, “Is this me?” And, then, just this past Sunday, we tried on something else – a Curate. Now, Hickory Neck has been a two-clergy parish for many years in its past. But the financial strain of transition and the uncertainty about identity has caused many to wonder if being a two-clergy parish is who we are now.
As our new curate has been settling into his office, I have been thinking that sometimes, the only way to answer the question, “Is this me?” is to just go for it. Part of the equation will necessitate us being bold enough to live into a new identity under new leadership. Like with a bold new outfit, we have to put our minds to living fully into the path we have chosen for our future. But the other part of the equation is remembering how, like putting on a bold new outfit, sometimes our confidence will rise in spite of ourselves. Just by living into our new identity, our sense of adventure, creativity, and confidence will grow. Change is hard, and I know many of us this week may be wondering, “Is this me?” For those of you asking that question, I encourage you to trust that God is at work for goodness among us – pushing us into that sweet spot where tremendous ministry can happen. I don’t know about you, but I am pretty excited to live into our new look!