October’s blog post comes to us from NazToo admin Taryn Eudaly. Taryn is a recently ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene. She and her husband have three daughters and fondly remember sleep and privacy. She’s currently in the MDiv program at Portland Seminary and spends her time trying to feed her kids while doing homework and working to topple the racist patriarchy that built America. She grew up in Open Bible and Evangelical Free churches but became a Nazarene when she felt a call to ministry. She may not be a fourth generation or have roots in Texas or Kansas City, but she is Nazarene, too.
When I was asked to write a post for this blog, my initial reaction was a mix of pride and terror. My brain constantly swirls with so many furiously fluttering ideas that I can never manage to grab one before it flies away. Should I write about my disability? #metoo? Church abuses and sexism? I ended up backing out for a couple months.
All of those topics are just ways of talking about me. Look what I’ve overcome. Look how special I am because of what I’ve suffered. But the fact is I am special. Truly, gloriously, amazingly special. And it is by the grace of God that I can believe that at all and I hope you recognize that you are gloriously, beautifully, fearfully, wonderfully special, too.
After my husband and I were baptized in 2009 we moved to Mississippi. I knew that I was called to ministry but I had no idea what churches would allow women to do the work. Thanks to Google, after a couple of months I found a local Church of the Nazarene. There were a lot of issues in that congregation but the power and love of the Holy Spirit is there, too. We stayed and I fell in love with the holiness theology that affirmed my experiences as real and holy.
After 8 years in the church I love her more than ever. She is a cheap whore, selling off her body for status, reputation, and butts in seats. But she is also a caring mother, nurturing babies into maturity and growth, feeding and comforting and sending off her children. The Church of the Nazarene has taught me about sexism and racism, about grace and love.
When I read about the lynching of Christ it is because of Nazarene brothers and sisters in SoCal that I can understand the truth of that statement. When I see LGBTQIA members hurt and outcast it is Nazarenes who have taught me the holy humility of apology and acceptance. These things are proof to me of the reality of prevenient grace, sanctification, and being transformed into the image of Christ – of being made truly and fully human.
And that’s the beauty of what I’ve learned in NazToo. When the Bible says we were chosen before the foundations. Before we were conceived in our mothers wombs, we were conceived in the mind and Creative imagination of God. Our existence is not just accidental. Your life is not an accident. Your call is not something extra hanging around that God throws at you hoping it fits.
Your existence is on purpose, for a purpose.
Have you ever fallen in love? My husband is, to me, the most incredible man. I could list a hundred wonderful things about him and he wouldn’t really sound all that special, just like a good man. But he is. He is the ONE person I want as my spouse. And that is how Christ feels about every one of us. He lists the things about us that make us uniquely ideal and wonderful and loveable, down to the number of hairs on our head.
Once, not long after I was saved, I was sort of just sitting with God. Praying, listening, just thinking. And I asked, “Why did you create us?” I mean, really, it’s a hell of a question that I think anyone who has experienced trauma will ask. Why did you create us, why did you allow horror, why did you even bother with it – not because it makes me think you’re a bad God, but because I wonder what even is the point? It seems ridiculous. There was no anger or sadness attached to the question, but the answer I received blew me out of the water. I heard a voice say “to delight in you, my daughter.”
Dude. Just. . . dude.
To have someone truly delight in my existence, delight in my personlity, delight in my joys and recoveries and work. To delight in the fact that I am I, is, honestly, something that I am still working to accept. But realizing this truth, that becoming more like Christ is also becoming more uniquely humanly me, is the core of our spiritual journey. Nobody is going to be the same as anybody else when they work out their salvation with fear and trembling.
I don’t know why this is the topic I’ve chosen. I know that I wish someone had convinced me of this truth, of this gospel, far sooner. Maybe this will help someone on the path to recognizing the good news that Christ is for them. But I do know I wouldn’t have managed to hold this truth so well if it weren’t for the loving church I found on Facebook.
The people of I’m Nazarene, Too walked with me through fear and anxiety, joy, disappointment, discouragement, and distrust. They gathered around me and sent me to a conference to make me a better pastor, they gave me housing and food. They sent gifts for the unexpected baby who sleeps next to me as I write this. They have lifted me up, challenged my assumptions, given grace as I grow, and discipled me in ways that have been missing at every church.
It is this surety in who I am and in their love that has allowed me to work through the pain of my mentor and pastor admitting to an abusive sexual relationship (although he doesn’t admit it was abusive), and his wife blatantly lying to me about it to try to cover. This surety has helped me reach out and work with a therapist to deal with my PTSD. It has allowed me to be vulnerable and open and resilient and flexible through the triggering reports during the Ford/Kavanaugh hearings.
However, the greatest joy for me in knowing how adored I am, how intentionally I exist, and how unique I am, is recognizing that it is pure grace that made, surrounds, and fills me. I can pour that grace out on others. I can pour it out on those who incite righteous anger, and those who draw out pity. I can pour it out on those who vote in ways I find irresponsible and practically violent. I can pour it out on those who stand by and wring their hands. On those who wear hats and march and yell and scream but don’t love their neighbor. And I can pour it out on myself, a libation poured out to God, humble and thankful grace for the daughter in whom he delights. And I can talk about me because I am someone worth that love and attention, because God made me worthy. And you are worthy of that same care, attention, and grace.
Today my prayer is that you will be opened to the truth of who you are, who you are in Christ, and the joy with which the God Who Sees You (El Roi, Gen 16:13) delights in your very being.