By Meghan Hatcher
A phrase spoken off-handedly during the December cohort meeting of The Change Maker’s Project has stuck with me ever since that Saturday in Baltimore — “perpetual state of preparation.” What the pastor/social entrepreneur/justice seeker meant by that phrase wasn’t something altogether virtuous. For Rev. Heber Brown III, pastor at Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in North Baltimore, a “perpetual state of preparation” becomes an impediment to faithfully fulfilling one’s call in the world.
Brown shared this phrase in a simple retelling of an exchange he’d had with one of his young congregants. The woman confided in her pastor and named her compulsion to seek more education, more training, more credentials, more something that would finally leave her prepared her for the next step. Brown’s paraphrased advice: it’s time to step beyond a perpetual state of preparation. That sounds so simple. Yet for anyone who’s ever actually stepped close to the precipice of something big and decided to take the next brave step forward, we know escaping a state of preparation isn’t coincidental. It’s hard-fought and even harder sustained.
Brown’s words hit me in the gut and sank into my bones. If I’m honest, I’ve insulated myself in a perpetual state of preparation for at least the last five years and now I feel an itching in my body that it’s time to move beyond it. It’s not that any of the last five years has been a waste of time or resources; it’s not that my years of graduate school and various jobs haven’t produced something worthwhile, but it’s time to get going. Remember that scene in pretty much any old western movie, the one where the lead cowboy has pursued his love interest and there’s a glimmer of hope that he’ll actually settle down and decide being a family man could suit him? Then remember 20 minutes later when he realizes he wasn’t cut out for that rooted, settled down kind of lifestyle and he just has to say goodbye, no matter how much it hurts him, and get back onto his horse and ride off into the dusty sunset (see photo if you aren’t tracking with me)? Yep, that’s where I’m at right now. It is time to get moving and thankfully, the brand new beginning boasted by January 2019 arrives at just the opportune time.
*Photo: "Hell on Wheels," IMDb