“Lord, I just want my life to be true
Yeah, and I just want my heart to be true
And I just want my words to be true
Yeah, and I just want my song to be true”
-The Avett Brothers

I was working on my divinity school applications during winter break when I received an email from my pastor, Daniel Willson, asking me if I would preach for Williamsburg Baptist Church’s celebration of Martha Stearns Marshall Month of Preaching. His request came at such an interesting time; here I was, trying to articulate my calling for my seminary applications, yet also struggling to understand exactly to what I felt called. I knew that God gives each of us interests and abilities, and I knew I loved music, theology, and languages, and I felt a passion for social justice. Still, I did not know how I would use these in the world. When I read the email, I immediately was flooded with many feelings: excitement, apprehension, honor, unworthiness. Still, I said yes, and began thinking and praying about what God might say through me.

As one who was a religious studies major in college, I often approach scripture analytically and critically, trying to uncover the sociological, historical, and linguistic features of the text as well as the theological implications presented. However, I also remember the importance of what I once heard a pastor call “reading with soft eyes and listening with soft ears.” There is a reason why, of course, our scriptures are holy: they point to truths greater than ourselves, to a God who loves and beckons us closer. With this in mind, I thought about writing a sermon somehow combining my interests in biblical Hebrew and music to show how God is transcendent yet ever-present, calling all to “clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14 NRSV). My preaching on Martha Stearns Marshall Sunday was an incredible experience, and though I was nervous, I focused on my love for God and God’s people to center me.

A few days later I attended an event at my school, where local hip-hop artists spoke about music and social justice. One student asked about calling: “How does one discern and pursue God’s visions and plans for each one of us?” One of the musicians answered, “Think about what one thing you would all the time, simply because you love it so much. Then think about an issue or concept you want to change or share with the world, something that makes your heart pound, something you can’t contain. At the intersection of these two ideas is calling.” For me, I would sing and listen to music all day if I could, and my greatest desire is for all to know God’s all-encompassing love and freedom.

It’s amazing that this has happened so recently, and I see God’s hand in everything. I am very thankful for the opportunity that Baptist Women in Ministry provides in helping women find their voices; I know I’ve learned so much about God and myself in the process, and I feel affirmed in my call to help bind together the church in “perfect harmony.”

Kelley Doyle is a senior at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, majoring in Religious Studies and Hispanic Studies. Her academic interests center on language as well as justice issues from theological and cultural perspectives. Starting this fall, she will be pursing a Master of Divinity degree with the intent of working in the arts, a non-profit, and/or congregational ministry.