You do not have to do what they want you to do
You do not have to be what they want you to be
You only have to follow your own heart.
Tell me about your fear…
As you leap into your own direction.
Meanwhile take naps and listen
To the tune of your purpose
Meanwhile become awake and note the song you are…
You only get one life,
One lyric – to live.
Leave rules to the deceased;
You’ll only persevere for that which is your own,
The rest is pressure in the tune of them not you,
Each day – become free
Do what you were created to do.
This poem is entitled Be Free and I created it using an unblocking writing exercise with the framework of Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese. The poem is designed to take the reader on a journey of mental freedom starting with affirmations similar in tone. The poem arose from an emotion of frustration within the system of itinerant ministry. A few months ago I was ordained as an Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and one of the Pastors told me that I am now a prisoner of the AME Church. What a paradox, you are free as an itinerant to have a boundless ministry yet you are still bound by man’s rules, procedures and whims. This has created an internal dilemma for me. How much of my soul do I give to God and how much am I supposed to give to the church? The answer may be all to God and never sell your soul even to the church, yet you would think that the church holds the Book of Life the way they can make demands of clergy. To be a clergy member one has certain responsibilities, but should that responsibility come at the expense of losing your family because you spend more time at church than with your spouse and children. Should it come at the expense of losing your personal dreams because you are more invested in meeting the vision of the church? I only get one life, you only get one life- do you want to spend your entire life telling other religious congregates to go out and live their lives or would you rather exemplify what it means to live life abundantly. I fear that some clergy only feel that they were created to preach behind a pulpit- how restricting that must be. I would want to ask them what they are afraid of.
If your life experience is only predicated around what you do for the church, then what value do you bring to the Kingdom of God outside of the four walls of the church? I was created to soar beyond those four walls, to work in the children villages in Guatemala, to walk with children in search of water in Sub-Saharan Africa, to bring advocacy to the dalits in India, to teach life skills behind prison walls. I was created to use this one life to sing songs of justice through my actions for those inside and outside of the church. Life is only what you make it, so each day we must ask God what we are created to do today.
My pastor recently told me that he prays the Lord’s Prayer differently than most. He says with a loud voice and a foot stomp “Come thy Kingdom, Done thy Will.” Stating the prayer in this manner and removing the repetitive word “thy” made the prayer less passive in tone. In this manner we are giving God a directive as well as saying God do what you want to do in my life and only your will and opinion matters.