So, back to the elevator speech, this time, my personal one, not Paul’s (remember Romans 1:1-7?) Or, we could call it “the party introduction”.
I may have to avoid parties with strangers for a while, because, well, while I know what my introduction is NOT, I do not yet know what it IS. This is a fairly uncomfortable place to sit in a world which often values us most by what we do, rather than who we are. And some answers are more acceptable than others, for sure. So, my friends who respond to the infamous question: ‘So, what do you do?” with “Oh, I’m a lawyer” — well, those friends have an easy, acceptable answer. The question-asker knows what a lawyer is, even if they don’ like lawyers. You see the person who asked the question relax when the answer is “lawyer” or “teacher” or “business person” — these are good, understood, answers in my ‘hood of Washington, D.C.
Responding with “I sing opera” or “I sing classical music” always was a bit of a showstopper in the conversation, but at least you could explain it. The follow-up question almost always was, “Oh, so you sing with the Washington Opera?” — generally coming from someone who knew nothing about the opera world. And then there was the moment of embarassment as you tried to explain that there were many levels to the opera world, and not all of us work for the opera-equivalent of IBM — most of us work for the business equivalent of the local computer store. And then, the conversation would be over.
I have other friends, particularly in the pastoral professions, who know the discomfort of which I speak. How you answer that question when you meet a person completely sets their assumptions about you. If your answer, particularly if you are female, is: ‘I’m a pastor at a downtown Baptist Church”, a lot of avenues of conversation will automatically close that probably don’t need to close. But, there you are.
So with one label gone, I either have to find a new heading for my elevator speech or figure out how to move in the culture that I live in without one: both seem like insurmountable tasks to me at this moment. I have a lot of things that I could say, but none of them seem quite right: “I make soup”, / “I’m a seminary student”/”I sing in church”/ “I’m a musical entrepreneur”/”I’m mother to a 3-year old beagle”….all parts of what I do each week, but none of them are me. I want a speech like Paul’s, a speech that really captures the essence of my reason for being.
Too much for an elevator speech? Maybe so. Then, I guess, like Jesus’ baby sister, I’ll be spending a lot of time in private with my mirror, whispering……