My name is Valerie Goins, I am a 47-year-old seminary student at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and an intern chaplain at the Robley Rex VA Hospital in Louisville. I am the mother of 3 young children, wife, part-time farmer and children's minister. Plus, the pets that consist of 3 dogs, 1 cat, 3 chickens, 1 pigeon, and 60 head of cattle. If it sounds busy, it is!
I always felt a call to Christian ministry but I was told for years that it wasn't an appropriate job for a woman. So, I studied other things, pursued other careers and did fairly well for myself. But I was never passionate about my vocation because it wasn't who I was, it was simply what I did. A few years ago, while staying at home with my kids, I made a list of dream jobs and chaplain was on it, much to my surprise. What was stopping me? Only a Master of Divinity degree, ordination from the United Methodist Church and countless clinical hours of unpaid labor. Not to mention, entering a workforce virtually closed to women until not too many years ago.
Why would I pursue such a path? Simply put, life is too damn short to not do what you yearn to do. In each of us, deep within, there is a purpose and calling for your life. Each of us has a different one. Women are conditioned to believe that many of their passions are off-limits. The choice is to simply survive your life or to thrive in your life. Following your passion allows you to thrive.
It is hard, I have had men tell me to my face that it is wrong for a woman to be in the clergy. Countless times I have been told that women need to "be nice" and "get along with others" in order to keep the world in balance. But, in allowing myself to be silenced, I was killing off what made me special. The moment I began my journey to ministry my friends started to notice that I glowed when I talked. My children saw their mommy happy. My husband saw a fire in me that he had never seen before. And it was simply from saying yes to life, yes to vision and passion, and yes to my purpose.
The most rewarding part of ministry for me as a woman is watching people's minds change as they realize that I don't care what they think of me or my vocation and that I am going to love them anyway. I love seeing people jaded by slick TV preachers look at me and realize that I am not what they expected but something better than they imagined. And, I love walking into a room of boys and girls and showing them that a woman can do any job she sets her mind to do if it is her purpose, passion and calling. Mine is ministry, not for the faint of heart, but it is mine. Finding your own makes life better than a fairy tale ending or adventure story, it becomes your own happily ever after.
I love to fall into bed exhausted from a day of trying to do a million things at once because they are the things I chose to do, the things that give me meaning, and the things that make my life beautiful, messy and crazy. But they are my things. When you know your things, never let anything stop you. When you have found your calling, miracles will happen to make it all happen if you keep working and never stop dreaming it into reality. You will be told to behave, sit down, shut up, be a lady... maybe even called a bitch. Take it as a complement and just keep going. In a blink of an eye you will have either achieved your goal or grown miserable in a life you never wanted, it is your choice. The easy way may lead to an easy life but the hard way will lead to a wonderful life.