Open door to new directions

Pastor Michael Souza

In 1998, I was at a crossroads in life while my wife and I lived in Colorado.

Do I keep going down the employment path I was on, which was focused on making a living, or do I respond to the inner nudge to look into a career or vocation that would be more fulfilling?

Then, out of the blue a “door of opportunity” opened for me to go to graduate school and pursue a degree in spiritual nurture. It was a degree that wasn’t associated with a specific career path, but it was the open door I needed to start moving in a new direction.

Once I stepped through that door of graduate school opportunity in the Pacific Northwest, more doors began to open up, not only for myself, but also for my wife, Becky. She applied for a medical program at the University of Washington three years in a row without success. Then, the year we relocated to Washington, she applied one last time and was accepted to the program she had wanted to get into since 1997.

Being part of a church is something that is important to me and that was true even before I became a minister.

While we lived in Colorado we drove 40 minutes to attend church. That was okay, because it was a great church. However, when we moved to Mukilteo in 2000 we wanted a different experience, so we looked for a church that we could walk to (when it wasn’t raining!).

Once again there was another open door when I found a Presbyterian church just three blocks away from where we lived. Becky and I walked through the door that following Sunday and immediately realized we found our new church home. Our new neighbors had recognized us and began introducing us around, so we felt connected right away.

I was happy sitting in the pews on Sunday mornings because my plate was full taking a full course load at grad school. However, at a church potluck, I was minding my own business when the pastor asked if I would be interested in a “part time” staff position beginning that summer.

Where did that open door come from?

I hesitated, but stepped through once I realized all of a sudden my degree in spiritual nurture had specific direction.

In 2006, that part-time staff position had become the full-time Director of Adult Ministry. It gave me responsibilities overseeing congregational care and Christian education. I was happy and fulfilled in the unofficial role of associate pastor, but “unofficial” meant not being “ordained” in our denomination.

So, another door got my attention. This time it was a closed door that got me to consider there might be another open door to go through at some point. Indeed there was, but the formal seminary training wouldn’t begin until 2009.

In the meantime, there was plenty of schooling for me to do, because in February 2008 my wife and I entered the doors of the school of parenthood. That is the education that has prepared me most for the work I am called to here in Sunnyside in 2016 and beyond.

And this beautiful, challenging, humbling and inspiring cascade of open doors all began nearly 20 years ago with one open door.

May you find (new) direction with each open door.

Michael Souza is pastor of the Sunnyside Presbyterian Church.

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