It's been a long while since I've entered anything and "el camino" has been rough to say the least over the past six months. Let me bring you up to date.
I was preparing to take a long sabbatical when I received a call from the cabinet that they wanted me to help a congregation that was having some difficulty. I was literally sitting on the beach when I got this call and thought,this must be what Murphy's law looks like. Reluctantly, I went to the appointment for six months and frankly it gave me hope to help people find their way after a time of stress and struggle. It gave me hope that somehow I could find my way again.
In the midst of that interim time, my father suffered a stroke in early March leaving him weak, dependent and frankly depressed because with illness can sometimes come much change and accepting where he is in this stage in his life has proven to be more difficult than he ever imagined. To better care for his needs we decided to move him back in with us and needless to say, we are all adjusting. So between my step-daughter and my father, my husband and I have become full-time caregivers.
Is there some resentment? Actually, yes. Don't get me wrong, we are committed to them that is the covenant we to both of them and to each other as family. However, it doesn't mean that at times we are not weary of doing good, and of putting their lives ahead of our own, which for any couple can be extremely difficult to navigate. I sometimes want to say, I want my life back or I just want to find my life because there hasn't been a time when I don't remember taking care of someone.
And there it is.....
Raw, rare and real. My emotions come oozing out everywhere regardless of whether I am consecrated, set apart, and have received authority as an elder in the Church. None of that is supposed to be a covering for who I am and who God made me. They are the visible signs of a grace greater than I can explain but one that invites me to show up and be seen.
There are people who are experts at keeping their emotions in check at all times. Even in situations where they are in the middle of someone insulting them, they can respond with even-tempered words and not a hint of anger on their face. I hate them! I want to run up and poke their eyes out! Mostly because I can't do that. I can never pull off that "never let them see you sweat" thing because I usually carry my heart on the inside of my wrist and one wrong move and I'm bleeding all over. I should mention that my husband is one of those people and I admire him much for that.
Now over the years, ministry has helped me discern better when and where to let the emotional flood gates open but not always. Along the way, I've discovered that in order to love truly, there is no other way except through the way of vulnerability. Vulnerability as defined by Webster as "being open to injury" and one of my favorite authors and speakers, Dr. Brene Brown expands that definition and says, "vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity and change. It is the courage to show up and be seen." Loving does not promise that we must be loved back. Caring does not promise that we must be cared for back. Starting something new whether it is a new project at work or a new church doesn't mean that success is guaranteed. The courageous ones are the ones who stand in the arena and are willing to be seen even by the critics, the cynics and the fearful who choose to be guarded rather than risk being seen.
I am not photogenic at all and I hate taking pictures. I'm always looking for the right side or angle to make me look thinner, or at least decent, but being seen doesn't mean that only your good side is the one exposed, its all or nothing.
In Luke 10, Jesus send out his disciples with instructions on how to engage in ministry in the community. He reminds them that they have been given authority to bind, to heal, to loosen by his very name. After their day of work, they come back elated! "Dude! You should have seen the things we did! It was unreal!" To which Jesus gently reminds them, "Yup. I've given you authority for all that and more. Nevertheless, the most important thing is that I know your name, I know you. You're name is written in the book of life."
So when you come back tomorrow and things don't go exactly the same and your confused and perplexed because you did everything you thought you were supposed to do. Remember, just showing up is the most important thing you have to do. Show up and allow yourself to be seen when there are good days and when there are bad days.
I will be starting another new adventure with a new appointment, and I'm super excited about this one and I'm also well aware that most of the time people are looking for that perfect pastor, the One! The One that's going to rescue them from their downward spiral. The One that is going to get things back on track. The One that is going to perform miracles, handle serpents and kill scorpions. But the best that I can promise is that I will show up week after week, with all that I am and all that I hope for and allow myself to be seen.
I will show up....when the Bible Study I planned didn't go so well.
I will show up....when the sermon I prepared just didn't quite make it.
I will show up....when I stumble through my prayers.
I will show up....when somehow God uses all my mistakes and does something amazing.
I will show up because at the end of the day, I can take the risk of being vulnerable because the one who created, called and loves me knows my name and has my name written down in the Book of Life. No matter what that life may be, or where it may take me, God knows my name. I am seen and I am known, warts and all.
I am seen and I am loved unconditionally and for that I will rejoice!
Until next time...