On Wednesdays, I’ll blog about whatever is on my mind. See what I did there?
This was supposed to be fun.
See, I work on a church staff that has several things going for it. A couple are that they are extremely fun (and funny) people as well as authentic when it comes to the wins & losses of their spiritual journey/life/whatever-we’re-calling-it-these-days. Combine those two alone and you know any time you get together for a retreat it will be time well-spent.
I was looking forward to going.
And, after a fun lunch and some time getting settled in, we were going to have the first “session” of our retreat. The leader of our time together (who happens to be a member of our church family) gave us a couple of questions to head out and spend some time alone thinking & praying about. I wrote them down & headed out.
The first question was to make a list of things you have to be grateful for…and to jot down a few thoughts about your emotions as you did so. Easy enough.
My wife and I are on the cusp of empty-nesting, and more-or-less doing it anyway as the youngest is pretty busy doing her young adulthood thing.
My kids are doing that young adulthood thing…both graduating their educational pursuits with awards and such and landed plum jobs for their foray into careers.
My job is challenging and interesting and I finally feel like I’m becoming a part of the rhythms of the culture there rather than observing them. It feels like I’m really a part of the family after a over a year of feeling like the best friend who got invited on the family vacation. You know, a “glad you’re here, but you have a lot to learn about us” phase.
Now…emotions that this bring about…easy enough.
I was surprised to see what came out of my pen (in the blue ink I always journal in. Black ink just seems too morbid.)
What if my wife and I have a huge disconnect and this time of life exposes it? We were kids when we got married. We hardly knew each other outside the context of parenting and now we don’t have the ever-interesting world of new ideas and constant social changing dynamic of a university setting. We’re both different people after 26 years of this. What if this thing fish-tails & spirals out of control now?
What if the girls are wildly successful in their careers but don’t follow Jesus? I mean, they’ve seen entirely too much of how the sausage is made of a church, and what if they were okay with the Jesus thing but don’t connect with all the benefits of authentic community because of all the warts we let them see? What if it was wrong to take the “they might not like what they see but what they see will be real” approach to our spiritual lives? Then all they are is successful…but maybe we failed in the one thing God really wanted us to do for them?
What if I blow this thing professionally? I mean, this church family took a chance on me when no one else saw me as able to make a ministry shift. And not only did they take the chance, they entrusted me with arguably one of their highest values. This church family has over 50 years of missional living with all the ebbs and flows of methods to do that very thing, and now they’ve asked me to be the caretaker of that vision as we go forward? And I’ve never done this before on a scale this grand? Maybe I’m supposed to be is a bartender after all.
And this wrecked my retreat, if I’m honest.
The very first question which was designed to just get our brains engaged and get us ready to talk about the real stuff completely derailed my thoughts about the other stuff we were going to chat about along the way. It sat there. Nagging. Reminding me of all the things I’m not.
Sure, the time was great and the people were as fun as advertised. As authentic as advertised. I like them. They appear to like me. So many laughs. Such good food. A great time.
I get home yesterday and unpacked my overnight bag.
I wrestled with the “what ifs…”. In a big way.
And then a thought came into my brain. This is the way I think God speaks to me most often and most clearly. The random whispers of thought that come from just being silent.
It went something like this:
Remember when you taught on Sunday to that youth group about to go on a mission trip and you taught about how identity leads to mission? About how they are a masterpiece created to do good works which were prepared beforehand? About how that sentence that came to you that you actually whispered to the group for effect reminded them of that? How I gave you the words, “When the world whispers to you that you’re not good enough, that you’re not enough, and it will do that a lot every day, you have a choice to make. Do I believe the world? Or do I believe Him and His Word? Because no matter what the world says, you are a work of art.
He is enough.
He has to be…because emotions are responders and occasionally liars.
He is not.
I’ll choose to believe Him today. It is enough.