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Hopes of a Disillusioned Hopeless Romantic | Seminary Student Blogger

April 10, 2014

Joelinda Coichy

My friends call me the queen of corn and cheese. Pop music, corny chick flicks with predictable endings…mmmhmm. The sweet essence of life captured in a cheesy country song…yes, please! “Higher” forms of art like the ballet, the theater and good design…uh-huh.

Someone once said: “I crave beauty.”

I nearly fell out of my seat. #thatsmylife. I mean, yes, me too!

But in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that this hopeless romantic has been disillusioned lately. And it’s not because I have not seen a good romantic comedy recently.

It’s because life has a way of smacking the romance right out of you. Two days after college graduation and one day after I had moved into the same state as my Mr. Right, our two-year, long distance relationship came to an end…smack. Fourteen short months later, he married another…double smack. I quit my job and moved from sunny Georgia to this frozen, New England tundra…cold, hard smack. The nice orthodox, evangelical seminary respite from my previous secular, liberal education, it turns out, is full of broken humans who hurt each other in spite of themselves…smack, smack. Illness, failed Hebrew classes, insecurity…smack, smack, smack. The fact that “Frozen” was not nearly as good as everyone said it would be…SMACK.

Life is too difficult, unpredictable and full of disappointment for beauty.

But, on the days when I let go of the death grip that I have on my life and my way, I realize something: the antidote to disillusionment is perspective.

I don’t know about you, but my life so quickly becomes myopic and claustrophobic. And when in the world did beauty or romance ever come from myopic claustrophobia?

That is why Sabbath is essential.

In Sabbath, we let go of the vice grip we have on our agendas, our desires, our way and dial back into the fact that we don’t know it all, control it all, need it all or can do it all.

In Sabbath, we reconnect with the heart of God—the true fount of all that is eternally good, everlastingly true and expansively beautiful.

In Sabbath, there is space for romance [I don’t mean the lovey-dovey kind; I mean the mysterious, soul stirring kind] in the difficult, in the unpredictable, in the disappointment because we behold Beauty itself.

In Sabbath, God himself shatters our myopia and conquers our claustrophobia.

…I am preaching to myself on this one. And hoping that God will bring me to a place where I actually believe that He is big enough, even with all the bumps and bruises of life, to top my boldest, wildest, corniest, cheesiest dreams. 

Joelinda is a second year M.Div. candidate. She currently serves as the Student Ministries Director at Grace Chapel’s Watertown campus. She is a lover of all things beautiful including theater, fall days in New England, chick flicks and the mountains. She counts bargain-hunting her sport and enjoys singing loudly while driving. Above all, Joelinda’s passion is to build relationships that help others understand the transformative power of the gospel.

 

Tags: Author: Joelinda Coichy , student blogger , student life

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The Backwardness of True Empowerment | Seminary Student Blogger

March 18, 2014

Joelinda Coichy

This blog was going to be about gender dynamics at Gordon-Conwell.

I wanted to write about how my excitement over finally being in a school with more men than woman turned to frustration. About how I recognized that the complementation circles with which I readily identified seemed to create a subtle culture in which people of the opposite sex were objects—either to be pursued for marriage or set aside for the sake of “guarding hearts.”

I wanted to note that despite having discussed the challenges of being a woman ad nauseam in college, I found myself having to re-enter that conversation in seminary. That the issues re-surfaced in ways that were new to me—like the debate about women in church leadership.

All of these things were discouraging to me, and I was going to blog against them…

And then I attended the screening of the film Girl Rising. The compelling message about educating girls in the third world moved me. I wanted to do something to help those girls. I always had—which is why I came to seminary.

But the reality was that there I was, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, with not only a college, but a graduate education AND a ministry job at a church, itching to jump into the ring to fight for yet more rights…for myself.

Grasping for things that would make me feel more empowered, I had forgotten my dream of advocating for those without a voice. And worse, I had become blind to the fact I had a sphere of influence (albeit smaller and more broken than I would prefer) to make a difference.

And I realized this grave irony: you can miss your call when you are too focused on fighting for yourself.

Now, I am not advocating that we forget the injustices that we face as individuals (often those are the very areas that we are called to address). And after all, we cannot speak about someone else’s worth if we have abdicated our own.

Yet, I cannot help but hear the faint echo of Jesus’ backward economics: whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it (Matt. 10:39).

And I realize that true empowerment is not fighting for more for me but losing myself and what I have been given, no matter how large or small, to serve the least of these.

So the reality is, though they sometimes drive me up a wall, this blog isn’t about the gender dynamics at Gordon-Conwell.

This blog is about the women around the globe who:
Are the silent victims of unimaginable injustice and crime.
Cannot read or write.
Have been given no worth outside of their roles as bearers of children.

…And are denied the rights that I take as a given.

And to use my voice and energy to serve them is really the most empowered thing I can do. 

Joelinda is a second year M.Div. candidate. She currently serves as the Student Ministries Director at Grace Chapel’s Watertown campus. She is a lover of all things beautiful including theater, fall days in New England, chick flicks and the mountains. She counts bargain-hunting her sport and enjoys singing loudly while driving. Above all, Joelinda’s passion is to build relationships that help others understand the transformative power of the gospel.

 

Tags: Author: Joelinda Coichy , current students , student blogger

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Are the Chaste a Waste? | Seminary Student Blogger

February 21, 2014

Joelinda Coichy

God—I prayed—you have called me to ministry. And everyone knows that I cannot be in ministry without a husband. And God, you know this already, but it’s the end of the first year of this three-year master’s program. If it is best to date for one whole year before engagement, and I am going to need a year to plan (and save for) my graduation-time wedding…then, in faith, I know I can trust you to bring me a boyfriend…well, right now. Amen.

I seriously prayed this. Last summer. And when I was finished, I smiled. And then I thought: God is faithful. His plans for my future marriage/ministry cannot be thwarted. I can have confidence that He will provide me a husband!

And no boyfriend came.

A few months later, after a this-is-so-out-of-the-blue-this-can-only-be-God set of circumstances, I was signing an offer letter for a dream job as the Student Ministries Director of my church’s newest campus. The job would entail not only shaping a new student ministry but helping shepherd a congregation—just as God has given me the passion to do.

I was so excited about the job [read: blindsided by all the work I needed to do to help launch the campus] that it took me a couple weeks to look down and realize that…eh…there was still no ring on my finger and no man on the horizon.

And it was God’s turn to smile. He had been faithful. His plans for my ministry had not been thwarted. But a husband was not a part of the deal.

And I began my ministry as young, single woman.

I am a child of the I-kissed-dating-goodbye-true-love-waits-boundaries-in-dating era, and a proud and adamant complementarian. I believe, strongly, in the power of male and female partnership in ministry. But I am ministering, by “no fault of my own” (I guess, besides signing the offer letter) as a young, single woman.

So my first I-kissed-dating-goodbye-true-love-waits-boundaries-in-dating question is: Is that even allowed (even though I followed the rules and I am still single)?

My second is: If the Pew Research is correct, and people in America are waiting longer to get married and there are likely to be more single people sitting in our pews (no pun intended) and outside our church doors than ever before, what does this mean for how we steward our churches?

I am not proposing that we should change everything or anything really—but I am proposing that we have a conversation, amongst church leaders, about singleness, dating, homosexuality, marriage and healthy church dynamics.

More crudely put, are the chaste (and not so chaste), in our pews a waste?

I think not, and I hope that you would agree. But, if this is the case, then what does that mean for our churches?

I invite you to add your voice to the conversation this Thursday, February 27 at Gordon-Conwell in South Hamilton. Learn more

Joelinda is a second year M.Div. candidate. She currently serves as the Student Ministries Director at Grace Chapel’s Watertown campus. She is a lover of all things beautiful including theater, fall days in New England, chick flicks and the mountains. She counts bargain-hunting her sport and enjoys singing loudly while driving. Above all, Joelinda’s passion is to build relationships that help others understand the transformative power of the gospel.

 

Tags: Author: Joelinda Coichy , spiritually vital , student blogger

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I work in a collegiate ministry with graduate students aspiring to teaching in colleges and universities. Many are single women and a number struggle with the fact that their academic work makes them less appealing to some men, which is a sad commentary on men. I am so thankful for these women (and a number of men as well) who choose to be chaste and who offer their gifts to students and colleagues in secular colleges and universities and keep trusting God with their longings. Thank you for your faithfulness. You are a gift, not a waste!
Bob 10:03PM 03/11/14
I'd say that God definitely doesn't want the focus of your life to be desperately wanting a husband or that would be an idol! His timing is perfect and I would just keep praying for your future hopeful spouse and know that the Lord knows JUST the right time to bring you together. In the meantime, you are called to singleness and are to give thanks in that precious time slot!
Joan Kornblatt 9:18PM 02/23/14
Very interesting topic. Waiting to date won't stifle your freedom. On the contrary, it will give you more freedom to rejoice in your youth. And you'll have time to prepare yourself by developing your personality and, most importantly, your spirituality.
Diane 12:09PM 02/21/14

Redefining “Success:” Getting Better [Read: More Godly] Metrics | Seminary Student Blogger

January 30, 2014

Joelinda Coichy

I am the youth ministry director at a campus plant. We are about 13 weeks into our life together as a church. Pretty exciting, but it pales in comparison to the 3,016 weeks that our first campus, affectionately called the “mothership,” has been in action.

Every week—sometimes in the middle of a game involving moving an Oreo from my forehead to my mouth without my hands—I do the perfectly normal thing for a ministry leader to do: I take a quick head count.

These have been some my numbers the past couple weeks:

3 students
7 students
3 students
4 students

In my previous life I was a social media analyst, so the week we had 7 students, I took pride in saying we had experienced 133% growth!

But the numbers were down the following week. And the week after that. I hung my head and secretly considered scrapping our Wednesday night youth program. But that was until Steven piped up.

Steven and his wife are on the youth ministry leadership team at our campus. They are relatively new to the area and have gotten involved in the life of the church through our campus plant. One evening, I was having a conversation I had had before about “our strategy for growth,” and Steve said, “I wish we would stop talking about the numbers…It’s worth being here even for one student.”

Duh! And the Lord spoke. And I kicked myself.

In my days as a social media analyst, I had created reports that helped brands understand their success on Facebook. I had walked marketers through all the different metrics that I would report on: Likes, Comments, Clicks, Shares, Friends of Fans, People Talking About, Reach, Impressions, Fans by Country, Fans by Age Group…just to name a few.

Most brands, by default, tracked the Likes metric. This was a perfectly normal thing for a marketer to measure.

But, I had noticed that the smart marketers zeroed in on metrics better suited to their business. For instance, one brand measured clicks because as far as their business was concerned, people liking their Facebook page didn’t matter as much as people clicking into their online store and actually making a purchase.

Duh!

In my ministry, I, by default, had been tracking Likes. And though perfectly normal, my head count was the wrong way to measure youth ministry growth.

So now, I keep attendance. The difference is slight, but the implications immense.

Instead of measuring the high level mass of warm bodies that have given youth group/church/God a tacit Like by being in the room, I am measuring for depth of engagement with God.

And you know what finding a better, more godly metric has done?

It has taken my focus away from seeing my kingdom grow, and has helped me see the incredible work that God has been up to in developing His Kingdom.

So, these have been my real numbers the past couple weeks:

7+ deep, authentic conversations about faith and spiritual matters
3 new students drawn into a warm community of faith
5 students serving in the larger church body
10 sessions discussing the redemptive, providential work of God unfolding in history

And suddenly, I don’t care as much if we have 3 students or 30. 

Joelinda is a second year M.Div. candidate. She currently serves as the Student Ministries Director at Grace Chapel’s Watertown campus. She is a lover of all things beautiful including theater, fall days in New England, chick flicks and the mountains. She counts bargain-hunting her sport and enjoys singing loudly while driving. Above all, Joelinda’s passion is to build relationships that help others understand the transformative power of the gospel.

 

Tags: Author: Joelinda Coichy , current students , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger

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Confessions of a Selfish, People-Pleasing Pastor | Seminary Student Blogger

November 14, 2013

Joelinda Coichy

I have been a people-pleaser most of my life. Actually—I think I made it through high school and college in the shape that I did because I knew that being a good student and Christian would very much please my ambitious, emigrant, Haitian family.

I should have known then that I would probably end up working in the church, because it turns out people-pleasing is an area in which many of us pastor-types excel.

To a certain degree, this makes sense. Our call is to care for people and help them find wholeness in Christ. Generally, whole people are “pleased” with God and with us by extension. And we do our best to “give all the praise to God,” but c’mon, we love the goodwill that we receive because of God’s awesomeness (at least I know that I do). And this is not necessarily bad…

But when there are more people than we have the resources to care for and we get tired, our call degenerates. For me—generally into pandering, appeasing and thoughts along the lines of: “If I just show up and smile, I can make it through and they will be happy.”

But, if despite your people-pleasing tendencies you have genuine concern for your flock, here is the BIG, sad catch: people don’t want to be pleased and appeased; they want to be genuinely loved.

I have learned the HARD way that every time I show up to “serve” someone who needs (nags) me without explicit marching orders from the Holy Spirit, my “service” blows up in my face.

Generally, I show up tired, and despite my best acting Needy-Person-X can sense that I am not all there. Needy-Person-X doesn’t get what he/she wants/needs. Needy-Person-X is hurt. And I leave exhausted and—worse—discouraged about myself, Needy-Person-X, and about God’s ability to heal, in general…

Yeah, not ideal!

Genuine love is hard. Really, it can only come from God’s Holy Spirit making me aware of how much, despite my own brokenness, I am adored and provided for. And really, it can only happen within boundaries.

Boundaries that tell me that I am not God. Boundaries that remind me that I only can give what has been first been given to me by the Holy Spirit. Boundaries of rest, quiet and Sabbath that prove to my heart that God is the one at work, not me. And boundaries that prevent me from showing up, tired and needy myself, to “serve” what ends up being nothing more than my own ego and pride.

Joelinda is a second year M.Div. candidate. She currently serves as the Student Ministries Director at Grace Chapel’s Watertown campus. She is a lover of all things beautiful including theater, fall days in New England, chick flicks and the mountains. She counts bargain-hunting her sport and enjoys singing loudly while driving. Above all, Joelinda’s passion is to build relationships that help others understand the transformative power of the gospel.

 

Tags: Author: Joelinda Coichy , spiritually vital , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Brokenness & Leadership: Not “In Spite,” But “Because” | Seminary Student Blogger

October 15, 2013

Joelinda Coichy

Lately, I have been recognizing the profound link between brokenness and leadership and it has been blowing me up—in a completely good, leadership-style-transforming way. But before this idea was good-blowing-me-up, something else was wrecking me—in a completely heart-breaking and shake-your-fists-at-God way.

God repeatedly, intentionally, aggressively closed some doors in my life that I REALLY wanted open. And I was wrecked. I spent the better part of a couple weeks crying to God from the deep disappointment and despair lodged in my heart.

Ever noticed how even when you hurt, life marches on? Well, in addition to being a full-time seminarian, I'm a Student Ministries Director at a brand new church campus plant, and there was no time to stop and wallow in my hurt. So I bumbled and cried as I worked.

In the midst of all this, my boss asked me to pray before a team meeting. That day, the Holy Spirit was powerfully present through my prayer in a way that surprised and moved me, and then I realized that He was there not in spite of my brokenness but because of it. And that was when this idea sprouted in my heart: personal brokenness is essential for effective leadership.

I am not talking about brokenness for X,Y,Z injustice in the world (though having one of these is important). Neither am I talking about brokenness in the form of a deep unconfessed, festering sin or a long-standing addiction (though one of these things can be the root cause of the brokenness I am talking about).

When I say “personal brokenness,” I mean a vibrant and sincere awareness of the heart-wounds nearest and dearest to us that no matter how hard we stuff, ignore and deny, just reappear in the form of fresh lacerations for which there is no balm except the breath of God.

I am learning that for effective (read: compassionate, sincere, powerful) leadership, there has to be something personal that you are on your face in prayer and pleading with God about. You may not feel the hurt of that brokenness forever—but that is certainly where effective ministry must start.

Because when you are on your face before God, not only praying but also crying because it hurts and you don't have enough, grace prevails in your life. And when you are on your face limp from hurting before God, and yet there are people entrusted to your care, the Holy Spirit moves…in spite of your brokenness!

And when the Spirit moves, all (you included) meet God, you are surprised, and then you remember and relive the vital truth you forgot in the midst of all your reading, preparing and duck-aligning: the heart of the gospel is hope because of a broken (and resurrected) Body.

So, don't run from that persistent hurt—it is likely the very location of God's greatest work in and through you!

Joelinda is a second year M.Div. candidate. She currently serves as the Student Ministries Director at Grace Chapel’s Watertown campus. She is a lover of all things beautiful including theater, fall days in New England, chick flicks and the mountains. She counts bargain-hunting her sport and enjoys singing loudly while driving. Above all, Joelinda’s passion is to build relationships that help others understand the transformative power of the gospel.

Tags: Author: Joelinda Coichy , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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So true - thank you Joelinda. I recently read Sally Lloyd-Jones' children's Bible story about Naaman. In it she says "Naaman wanted to be healed and all he needed was nothing - the one thing he didn't have." Why is it so hard for us to accept our brokenness? Thank you for this reminder that it is the heart of the Gospel and the place where we meet, and are empowered by, Him!
Deedee Morton 11:11AM 10/25/13

Introducing Joelinda Coichy: Seminary Student Blogger

September 24, 2013

Introducing Joelinda Coichy, another one of our new student bloggers! Welcome to Gordon-Conwell Voices, Joelinda!

Name: Joelinda Coichy
My dad’s name is Joel and my mom is Belinda, and that is where my name comes from. I am thankful because that blending of names could have ended much worse for me. ;)

Degree: Master of Divinity

Hometown: Medford, MA, and Savannah, GA
I was raised in Massachusetts and by most standards I am definitely a Yankee, but there is a part of me that really, really wishes I was actually from and still lived in the South—that part of me rears itself each time I visit my mom, who now lives in beautiful, slow-paced Savannah and when I am cleaning snow off of my car in the dead of winter…

Where were you before seminary? Atlanta. I worked for a social media marketing technology company where I got paid to be on Facebook all day—literally. When I was not working, I was a small group leader for an awesome group of middle school girls at Passion City Church and served as an InterVarsity volunteer at Emory College.

Favorite hobbies? Singing loudly while driving, costume design, bargain hunting, community-building, jewelry-making and admiring beauty in nature.

Favorite food? My mom’s Haitian codfish…yum. French bread and French fries!

Favorite hero of the Christian faith? My mother. An imperfect but courageous follower of Christ who has reflected the beauty of the Father in the midst of the good, bad and ugly of life through an undying, whole-hearted and fervent trust in Jesus.

Favorite book? One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Interesting fact about yourself? I am first generation Haitian-American, so I speak French and Haitian-Creole in addition to English; I also studied Spanish in college….but Biblical Greek still kicked my butt!

Issues you are passionate about? Helping youth discover the life transforming freedom that is theirs in Christ and the joy of living out their God-given purpose—not as adults but NOW!

Tags: Author: Joelinda Coichy , student blogger

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