Guest Outpost blog by Emily McGinley
As we spoke on the phone, the reporter from our local Fox affiliate asked me, “What are you saying to your congregants in regards to the recent Supreme Court ruling marriage equality?”
I paused for a moment and looked down at my 7-month-old daughter. It was 6:30 p.m. and I was nursing her before bedtime. “We give thanks for this milestone that has resulted from the hard work of many who haven’t lived to see this day. And, we celebrate that the gift of love that comes from God can be fully expressed in committed, covenanted partnerships that are recognized across the country. Yet, we also understand how the oppressions that have been overcome to make this day possible are also at work in the in the lived experiences of people of color and, especially, black lives. We remember the shootings in Charleston, just one week earlier and so, in the spirit of Romans 12, we rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.”
Just one year earlier, I was marching in the Chicago Pride parade. At that point, I was only 4 months along in my pregnancy. In the months to come, I would find myself speaking with Wal-Mart workers in their “Respect the Bump” campaign, interviewing with Religion and Ethics Newsweekly about pastoral ministry to transgender individuals and, all the while, preparing my young congregation for my maternity leave absence. At that point, Urban Village Church (Hyde Park | Woodlawn) was only about a year and a half old and I felt a lot like I was leaving my toddler to attend to its younger sibling!
Since my daughter Selah’s arrival, I have constantly wondered about how I was going to live into my now tri-fold call of pastor, partner and parent. And all the while I was wondering about it, I was doing it – albeit getting only 2 of the 3 on any given day. Some days I’m an absent mother; other days I’m an absent pastor. And still others, I’m an absent partner. It’s frustrating, dissatisfying and overwhelming. And, on my most sleep-deprived days, that’s where it stays. But, on my (slightly) more well-rested days, I marvel at the grace that stepping through the veil of motherhood has allowed me to experience: My young congregation has stepped up, my partner has done everything he could to shoulder the burden of infant needs (sterilizing pump parts and bottles is no joke) and I have embraced the reality that, at times, “good enough” is sometimes the best I can offer. Sometimes that means giving a phone interview instead of one in person and, sometimes, that means talking on the phone instead of enjoying a quiet moment with my baby girl.
It might not be worth it if I didn’t see so many lives changed for the better; souls that have come alive through the faith community that has been formed at UVC. It might not be worth it if I didn’t see how the messages I preach seem to really matter and carry people through their week. It might not be worth it if I didn’t want my daughter (or heck, just me!) to grow as a person of faith in a community that is committed to values of anti-racism, faithful questioning, and intersectionality. And so, I do my 2 out of 3, trusting that in my good enough parenting, pastoring and partnering, God’s economy will take my five loaves and two fishes and make sure that, somehow, everyone gets fed.
EMILY McGINLEY serves as founding pastor of Urban Village Church (Hyde Park|Woodlawn), a racially, theologically and socio-economically diverse faith community on the south side of Chicago.