On Being a Chaplain
Yesterday I received some amazing news. In the mail I received my ordination certificate and badge as a Senior Chaplain. So excited! Over the past several years, I have spent hundreds of hours studying trauma and how to care for people who have experienced trauma. (FYI…nearly ALL of us have experienced trauma.) I have been in classes around abuse, suicide prevention, coaching, body trauma, self care…anything I could attend to help me process my own story and help others process theirs. The challenge was trying to figure out how to tie all these pieces together! Then God brought me into a Chaplain program.
When I first started going down the road of becoming a chaplain, I wasn’t really sure what they did. Boy was I supposed to find the wide variety of tasks and focuses for chaplains! Depending on which branch (police, fire, military, community support, medical, etc) you choose, you can do anything from marriage counseling to serving a death notification. The range of work is really quite wide. For me, I chose community support because that is where my heart lands. I do volunteer work in our local homeless community and am wanting to expand my work. Being a community support chaplain is the best fit.
Jesus has placed an Isaiah 61 call on my life. I know that my call is to help bring healing to people by binding up the brokenhearted and showing those held captive that there is freedom! Being a chaplain allows me to do this in a way that is not specific to any one denomination and that is better for how I believe. It allows me to represent the God of Bible in a way that crosses denominational lines and that makes my heart soar! I get to simply love people with the love of Jesus while their lives are in turmoil because of a traumatic event happening now, or because of a traumatic event that happened in the past and they are now engaging the pain.
When I was sitting in the chaplain training, feeling overwhelmed at the scope of the work and wondering why I was even there, God whispered into my ear, “This is what I have created you to do. This is how you follow me now.” I’ll tell you what, I started crying in my seat. I have been asking God for years to show me what I’m supposed to do in life and each time I ask, He just says “follow me”. So, with no big vision other than the cross in front of me, I have followed Jesus to the best of my ability. I fail, I fall and I get back up. In one moment in that classroom, I saw all of these seemingly random pieces come together into the call on my life. Beautiful! I understood that God needed me to not focus in the task and instead focus on the Cross first, then He would give me the task. He really does have a good and perfect plan (Jeremiah 29:11).
So, now I pray a different prayer: Holy Spirit, guide me and show me how to use this ordination well to bring Your healing and Your glory to the world around me. I don’t dream of a big stage, I dream of helping people engage their story, mitigate the long term effects of trauma, and find freedom. I feel honored and humbled that this is my call.