I’m writing this 6/27/18 but I’ll post this after I announce this to the church 7/8/18.
A couple wise people told me to write a blog post on why I chose my new job and what I like about it. That way, after the honeymoon period is over, or if I face hard challenges, I can look back with confidence as to why I made my decision.
Also, for any friends, especially from Washington Cathedral who feel confused about how Becca White McCary could possibly ever not work for Washington Cathedral, I wanted to write something to help others understand too.
From the moment I became a mom, I have not balanced ministry and family life well. It’s been a painful struggle for me. Pastoring often feels more natural than mothering to me, but I still love my kids deeply. In both areas I’m never able to give enough. My kids cry “mama no preach!” On the weekends and cry for hours on end all the nights that Ben tucks them in without me there because I’m running kids programs. Camps have been very hard on my kids too. Similarly, I know that the Cathedral Kids and my sermons often need much more than I’m able to give too. It’s caused a lot of painful internal struggle and guilt for me.
Ben has known for a long time that I’ve needed to find a different job, and it only took me 4 years and lots of counseling to catch up. I was in denial for a long time because there is nothing else that I’ve ever wanted to do. I loved my job at Washington Cathedral. From the time I was in 3rd grade, I have pictures I drew of me preaching at Washington Cathedral one day. I loved using my masters degree, helping people, building up the church, playing with kids, counseling, doing hospital visits… all of it. If I had chosen a different path in life that didn’t involve marriage and a family, I probably would have stayed at Washington Cathedral as a pastor all my life. But I did choose to become a wife and mother and I love it. I love my husband and I love my kids and my first loyalty is to them, not my career.
Slowly, God began to reveal this to me. The first time was the moment I gave birth to Oscar January 2016. I was called by multiple people, hours after having him, wondering how I planned to cover the Cathedral Kids program since he came 3 weeks later than expected. I felt like I needed to call subs and send out curriculum rather than attending to my hours old baby and it was clear, my life was out of balance. I needed something with systems and extra employees in place to let me pull back sometimes. Three weeks later, Oscar had a fever and Eva was having a tough time, I was recovering from my emergency C-section, but I was back in the pulpit. As my postpartum depression and anxiety increased, it became clear something was out of balance in my life, but it hurt to bad to admit I might need to move on from the only job I’ve ever wanted.
August 2017 I got a job offer for a church in Seattle. Though I really liked this church and it’s pastor, I knew in my bones this wasn’t right. Anytime I thought of leaving, I had another panic attack. It didn’t help that Oscar was back in the hospital that week either. Two more times that year this church came back to me with offers and 3 other churches seriously considered me as well. But in each situation I wasn’t ready to go and it just didn’t feel right. I was doing a ton of processing but no other church job felt right.
Every time I did a funeral or met with one of the wise older women of the church, they told stories of choosing their families over their careers and what a blessing that was to them. Every time, I heard God whisper to me as they spoke, “listen to that”. I also had wise friends telling me that they think it would be healthier for me to look into a different job. I’m so grateful for the people who love me enough to tell me the uncomfortable truth.
Finally, inconsequentially, a job at a Catholic retreat center popped up on my indeed profile to be their “administrator”. Without looking into it much, I clicked one button and sent them my generic resume. Surprisingly, a couple weeks later, they asked if I could come in for an in person interview. I said yes, in part to humor Ben who was looking out for my best interest to find something that was a less stressful fit for me. But when I prepared for the interview, reading their website, I teared up to see the powerful way these nuns lived out their faith fighting for justice. I had no idea what job I was interviewing for. I thought, “maybe it’s a secretary type position?” But I got really, really excited to go and meet these women. I’m a total fan girl when it comes to nuns.
When I met them, there were 2 big surprises: 1. The moment I met them I loved them and felt like I had known them my whole life. 2. They weren’t interviewing me to be an office secretary. They were asking me management questions because I would oversee 30 employees, 3 managers, and multiple departments. I never would have applied had I known how under-qualified I was. They wanted someone with a degree in business management and gerontology and healthcare management. I had none of those. But I left feeling deeply grateful for the chance to meet these women. I knew I would remember that moment the rest of my life.
Much to my surprise, they brought me in 2 weeks later for a 6 hour in person interview where over 60 people asked me interview questions. It was intense, but I loved it. I expected to have a panic attack, like the job search process in the past, but instead I felt full of peace and energized in a good way.
2 days later they called and offered me the job and I accepted.
So here are the pros to the job:
-I get to work Monday-Friday, with weekends home with my family. For the past 2 years, Ben and I haven’t shared a day off. Add in me working evenings and him commuting 3 hours a day, we’ve really missed time as a family of 4. This will help that tremendously. I’ve also never had 2 days off in a week. I don’t know what to expect, but I’m excited to try out this new rhythm.
-I get to work an early shift (7-4) and so I can be home each night to make dinner and tuck in my kids. No more nights of Oscar waiting, crying at the window for hours past his bedtime until mommy comes home.
-Saint Mary’s at the Lake has many similar values to Washington Cathedral, allowing me to hold onto many organizational things I love such as a family/relational atmosphere and a collaborative team work approach to leadership.
-I get to hang out with some really amazing saints. I really liked the people I met, both the employees and the nuns.
-I will be stretched in my faith in ways that I’ve been longing to grow. I love justice but have struggled to feel comfortable going to political marches while pregnant or nursing and I’ve felt cut off from friends who are as passionate as I am about justice issues. These nuns will help me reconnect with that and find ways to exercise this passion of mine.
-This is a huge career growth opportunity for me. I get practice being in a formal leadership position and overseeing a staff and managers. I get to practice HR skills and get tuned up in my professionalism. This is a pro because I will grow so much, but I also know this will be a big challenge to get up to speed.
-They are paying for me to go back to school to get up to speed. I get to find classes or a certificate to get in business management. One more thing to add to my resume and help me grow as a leader. It helps me feel more secure as a provider for my family to have more things like this should I ever need to look for work.
-I could see myself being here a long time. It’s intuitive, but I just feel peace being there and I don’t think I’ll get bored or stagnant anytime soon. I have so much to learn!
-It’s a raise for me and my family. Though the whole raise is going to childcare costs now, when both kids are in public school, this will be a good thing for us.
-There have been a few close calls with my dad’s health in the last few years… his MRSA and Massive pulmonary Embolism to name a few, it was way too scary to think of losing my dad. He is my best friend, mentor, and pastor. But he was also my boss. If he died I would be out of a job and unable to find something that allowed me to take care of my kids. Now I get to let my dad just be my dad.
-I get to model women in leadership to my kids.
-I get to grow up outside my family a bit. I get to be defined just as Becca McCary and see how that feels.
-I can worship with my family and invest in my kids spiritual growth without needing to be in the back teaching Sunday School.
-Taking this job won’t force me to say goodbye to Washington Cathedral. In fact, I can still worship there on the weekends because I won’t be working.
-I can afford to send both my kids to school. Oscar has been ready for preschool and Eva ready for a more social and academic challenge. Now I get to send them to an amazing school and I’m really happy about that.
-I can afford to keep our nanny before and after school. She has become like family to us and the kids get to keep having Jordan in their life this way.
-It’s help me clarify my calling in a way that feels really, really right. All the pastoral job offers I’ve gotten haven’t felt right. When they ask me, “what do you want to do” I never felt fully understood and able to meet my calling in their setting. I feel called to pastor people (all ages, not just kids) and by that I mean look after them spiritually, teaching them how to follow Jesus, encouraging them, and protecting/supporting them. Every time a church tried to pin me down to one specific group my hear would say, “no, I’m just a pastor!” But it’s also help me see a huge part of my heart and my calling: to build up the local church. Now I get to tithe from income outside the church and see how I can build it up in other ways. I can still preach if that’s helpful or just clean the toilets when they are dirty. Not being tied down to a church job, frees me to keep the broadness to my calling that I feel is there while still specifically loving and supporting a local church.
I’m sure there are other pros, but those have been the big ones for me. Thanks for taking the time to check in on me!