Pride

“Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you.” These words of wisdom from writer, speaker, and activist Parker J. Palmer have guided me along my spiritual path since 2012 when a colleague encouraged me to read Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation.

From spring 2021 to fall 2022, I participated in Crossing the Threshold: Contemplative Foundations for Emerging Leaders. Shalem’s Crossing the Threshold is for those who are between the ages of 25 and 40 and seek a deeper spiritual foundation for their lives. This program and the community formed in those eighteen months were a lifeline for me.

Our spiritual journeys are marked by key milestones and moments along the way that serve as guideposts for the road ahead. Reading Let Your Life Speak and participating in Crossing the Threshold were both those types of experiences – answered prayers in the form of community, guidance, and wisdom.

As we celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month, I am reflecting on my own “coming out” experience, which was among the most formative and pivotal chapters in my journey. After publicly coming out during an address at an annual regional gathering of my denomination, I received much love and support from colleagues and friends. My discernment at that time led me to stay within my faith tradition and advocate for inclusion and change. I am grateful that I remained and enjoyed several more years of fruitful ministry as a seminary-trained layperson.

During my time in Crossing the Threshold, I sensed that my discernment about next vocational steps was beginning to shift. Shalem pointed me toward practices that deepened my discernment, both individually and communally. Among these disciplines was a monthly meeting with a spiritual mentor, who journeyed with me during a challenging season. With guidance from the Shalem community, I found the courage to explore new possibilities for my vocation. I have continued my ministry journey, now in the field of philanthropy.

For those of us in the LGBTQ+ community, the contemplative journey can offer a lifeline. Whether faith communities have been a refuge, a source of harm, or some mixture of both, we are all invited by the Spirit to continue to discern our ever unfolding calling. Just as a multitude of reasons exist for “coming out” or choosing another path, one can find fulfillment in the decision to stay within a faith tradition or denomination or to make the difficult decision to leave a community that has provided nurture and guidance for many years. What is the Spirit calling you toward during this season of your life?

“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others.” The wise words of Parker J. Palmer continue to guide me. As I seek to follow the still small voice of God and positively impact my communities, I am reminded to tap into my own joy along the way.

In her song Pride, singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun points us to the Love we all experience as we follow our hearts and listen to the wisdom of our lives.

It’s easy to forget there’s nothing wrong
And the voices that make you doubt
They all have issues of their own
And those who try to cut you down are scared of their own truth
It’s easy to forget that they are people just like you
A heart can break a thousand times
No hands can take what’s ours
They can’t change the beauty that’s inside
Pride

June 06, 2023 by Morgan Stafford 7 Comments
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Tandy
Tandy
8 months ago

I’m so proud of you! 😘

Sydney Kam
Sydney Kam
8 months ago

It’s so well written, and I love all the quotes used, especially the first sentence.

Kerri
Kerri
8 months ago

Thanks Morgan, for sharing a part of your journey with us. It’s so important to offer non-judgmental space for everyone’s voice and to have the humility to understand another person’s perspective. You are doing very important work on the outside and the inside. You are heard and appreciated! I’m glad you have had positive experiences within your faith that you can share as encouragement to others. You are a wonderful leader!

Sara
Sara
8 months ago

Morgan I love this! Thank you for sharing so authentically. It’s very inspiring and encouraging. What a journey you’ve been on! Fun fact — Joy O used to do the music at my Methodist church in LA back in the day. She is so groovy. <3

Sylvester Jones, Jr.
Sylvester Jones, Jr.
8 months ago

Well done! It has been a pleasure to work with you at the Fetzer Institute. Looking forward to the opportunity to learn and serve with you.

Sharpe Susan
Sharpe Susan
8 months ago

Thanks Morgan… you are such a gifted person…peace,

Janice Jenks
Janice Jenks
8 months ago

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Very beautifully written. Miss seeing you around Memphis,

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