February 3, 2019
“If it doesn’t open, it’s not your door.” Anonymous
Have you ever tried and tried and tried to do something, be a part of something, to align with something, only to have the door slammed in our face, over and over and over again? As quoted above, “If it doesn’t open, it’s not your door.” I thought I was long past that in my life, until some uncomfortable experiences this past year and one even this past week. The stories are irrelevant. My reaction to it is relevant as a reminder that not all doorways are meant for me. Walking away is sometimes the best option. Here’s a time when I did just that.
Years ago, I was invited to serve on an advisory board for a group of ministers serving large congregations. Their goal was to take their spiritual teachings out into the greater world. The first meeting was held at a fancy retreat center perched high in the hills above Malibu, California. My assigned roommate was the minister of a small church, similar to the community where I was serving as staff minister. We caught ourselves giggling like school children, wondering why we were there.
Right from the “get go” I felt invisible. Yes, the high-powered ministers were all nice and cordial, but I didn’t feel like I connected, like I belonged there. I kept asking myself why. Low self-esteem? Because I’m from hippy dippy Oregon and not sassy flashy California? It was mind boggling, and yet I hung in there, wanting to grasp what was unfolding before my literal and spiritual eyes.
I muddled my way through the first retreat, coming home confused and befuddled. A friend advised me that it was low self-esteem making me invisible in the eyes of what I called “high-powered ministers.” She encouraged me to look in the mirror and get that I too was a high-powered minister. I tried, but couldn’t quite get there. But that wasn’t going to stop me. This open door was too enticing to ignore.
Given that this was an incredible opportunity to serve and connect, a way for me to become more visible in the global arena of ministry, I decided to return to the next year’s retreat. The same woman was my roommate. We enjoyed a dinner out upon arrival, each wondering why we were on the advisory board, and why I personally felt so invisible.
The next morning, after prayer and positive self-talk, my roommate and I walked into the conference room with dignity and grace. Ministers were hugging and laughing, filling the air with enthusiasm and joy. It felt good. Soon a minister from Southern California—looking very surfer dude like—started walking towards me. We made eye contact and both smiled at each other as a way of recognition. As I extended my hand to him, he walked right by me and hugged another minister standing right behind me. He didn’t even see me. I was flabbergasted, even more so when similar patterns emerged throughout the day. I was totally invisible, even after gearing up my energy body. By now this was amusing, as I knew something deeper was going on.
It wasn’t until the closing circle that day that I finally got the message. I saw this door and was beckoned in, but I never really entered. My participation was half-hearted, for a reason. This organization was not my Tribe. I do not resonate with their desire to take their agreed upon teachings out into the world. In my thinking, the world has enough religions. No one was wrong or bad. It just wasn’t my tribe. It was time to stop knocking on a door that was not mine.
What happened next? I don’t know. Either they stopped meeting or they decided to leave me off the invitation list. I am grateful for the two advisory retreats I attended, and even more grateful to the many doorways since that have revealed my true Tribes.
I’ve a sore hand from knocking!