Why I’m Surrounded by Ampersands: The Gifts of Community

Why I’m Surrounded by Ampersands: The Gifts of Community November 15, 2018

You may have noticed that here on this column and on my website, my logo is an ampersand (&). 

In my first column, I explained the importance of the name Always And for this column. The idea of both/and thinking is central to how I approach ministry. AND it’s even more personal than that. (See what I did there?)

I was that kid. You know, the one who tended to make straight A’s. The one who got an inordinate number of gold stars. The one who was just kinda … good at stuff.

The system was designed for me in a lot of ways – I was good at test-taking; I excelled with paper writing and massive amounts of reading. My formative years were years where I became addicted to success (any other Enneagram 3’s out there hear me?).

I was the kid you wanted in your group for a group project. But I was also the kid who hated the group project. I could do it better by myself, and I knew that.

And as I moved into adulthood, I brought some of that attitude with me. It wasn’t intentional; I was the product of a system that told me my skills and abilities were valuable. And I so very, very often chose to lean on that childhood experience as I entered my career.

I preferred carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders to sharing the load. Besides, I could do it better myself, right?

Spoiler alert: wrong, wrong, wrong.

Intellectually, I know that. And yet, here I am, still feeling anxiety at least once a week that I’m not doing more. Not that more is not being done, but that I am not doing more.

And then I look around and see the village God has given me – the people who love me and support me, who work with me, who do life with me … and especially the one who chose to do life with me for good. I am surrounded by more giftedness than anyone deserves. I’m enveloped in more support and affirmation than one person could ever need.

Photo credit Rev. Melissa Cooper


And so all around me – on my phone case, on my business cards, on the shelf over my desk in my office – is the symbol of the ampersand. It’s a constant reminder to me that as I work, as I go throughout my day, it’s always me and. Always. And.

Chances are you’ve got a village of giftedness around you already, too. So let me remind you (as I remind myself): those people are God’s gift to you, and you were never made to do it alone. You can’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, so don’t try. Even God in God’s oneness is also three. God is always and, too.

So go into the world today knowing you are not alone, and you’ve got this … you and, that is.

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