Guest commentary by Alina Kanaski
“Have you found a church yet?”
As a graduated, unemployed call-seeker, I hear this question several times a week, as well as its cousins: “Do you have a job yet?” and “Any prospects?” And no, I still haven’t found a church yet. I’m interviewing, and looking, and it’s a long, slow process.
I just haven’t figured out yet how to tell people that I’m OK with that.
Everyone assumes that I must be anxious about it. Most people I talk to about it seem more anxious than I am about my job prospects. They want me to get a job, and they want it to happen yesterday. They want to hear the play-by-play of my latest interviews, and tell me about such-and-such church that’s looking for someone.
I’m really not that anxious about it.
Yes, I want to work in a church. I want a church; I want the chance to get to know a congregation and stay there and preach every Sunday. I want to experience church in all the ways pastors do that interns don’t, the day-to-day workings and meetings and conversations. I want to have a place to call home, instead of being in transition.
Yes, I’m sick of working part-time jobs. I’m sick of thinking about moving whenever I buy something new, or not knowing where I’ll be in a year. I’m sick of not having all my books unpacked because I have nowhere to put them. I’m sick of being in between: between seminary and pastoring, between being dependent and having my own place.
But I also love this in between space. I have the space to watch new shows (when am I ever going to have time to do that again?). I have the space to see who I am when I’m not a student, for the first time since kindergarten (yes, really — I did every bit of schooling all at once!). I have the space to see the bad habits I’ve formed and work to change them. I have the space to explore pastoral care questions and theology questions and read fun books and collect ideas and browse the library and spend all day with friends. I have the space to discover what’s truly important to me in ways that were impossible in my busy student and internship times.
And becoming a pastor is important to me. I’ve discovered all sorts of things about myself in this space — from the fact that I actually like cream cheese and low-level creepy shows, and that I have a love of research that was hard to find during the grind of seminary. But my call to become a pastor has remained steady. Every time I do pulpit supply, every time I volunteer as a chaplain, every time I give impromptu pastoral care to a friend or acquaintance, I’m reminded of my calling. I’m reminded of why I decided to move forward in the ordination process and why I decided to look for a church. I’m reminded of who I am and who God is.
God is here with me in this in between space. There’s no need to worry, and there’s so much to discover. It might not have been what I wanted after graduation, but I think it was what I needed.
ALINA KANASKI is looking for her first call while living in Pittsburgh, and trying not to be too anxious about it. In between she writes, watches too many videos online, and spends time with friends at the library.