When "No" is a Miracle

I was gobsmacked by the obvious today.

I resigned from the Episcopal ordination process, from Postulancy, a little over a year ago. Most of you know that.

I felt a tremendous amount of peace about the decision, felt certain that God was leading me to leave. I left because the denomination didn't seem like the right fit, but I had serious concerns that I would never find a home. Perhaps I was a denominational orphan. I also felt totally cowed by the idea of ever serving another church-- who could want me, used goods that I was? Please understand-- I've felt this way for over a year. This has been deeply painful. I didn't fall out of love with the table or the font, I still read more theology and spirituality books than anything else, and church is still exciting to me-- but denominations can feel so clubby to start with, and I didn't grow up in one denomination, and then I left a denomination: who could want me?

On top of which, I don't have a single tidy reason for leaving. I have a number of reasons, but they're not cohesive, and many of the crappy parts of my Process were just bizarre and don't necessarily reflect on the wider Episcopal church. I could not possibly have proceeded, but many other marvelous people do.

Somehow today I got bonked over the head with another perspective: What if "no" is an active miracle? What if there are a lot of answers to "Why did you leave?" because God was working on more than one front to steer me somewhere else? (I envision God as herding dog in this particular context.) If God can use a big fish to guide Jonah, surely God can use all sorts of situations to redirect me.

The sermon I heard this morning had a lot to do with forgiveness and second chances. I thought about it all day, about the second chances I've experienced in my own life. In every case, those second chances brought something better than I'd hoped for on the first go round.

I believe that God is active in our lives. I don't know how, and I don't know why bad things happen, but I do believe that God is active in our lives.

Perhaps it would be helpful to look at the closed door itself as an active miracle of God's love, rather than believing that only the opening window that follows is God's doing.

Have you had any experience with this?


  1. That is a really thought-provoking perspective!

  2. As a woman who is getting married for the first time ever rather latish, who was ordained by the most unexpected route after giving up ever thinking I would be, who finally figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up when most people were beginning to plan retirement....my motto is "it's never too late and ANYTHING can happen" so keep your eye on that door, Di.

  3. this is blowing my mind. thanks for writing it. thanks for sharing who you are. love you lots.

  4. I'm in a similar spot. I'm leaving a life that I've carefully built for 5 years in a foreign country. I've literally grown up here in many ways mainly because my choices have been so limited. Right now, there seems like there will be so many open windows, that I'll somehow choose the wrong one. This is not exactly what you've described, but I think fear might be the opponent we are both wrestling with right now?


"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins