I was there once upon a time. Feels like a lifetime ago but it’s only been a few years since I walked away from that work. Three years as “volunteer staff” in college & two years as official staff at a church plant of sorts was enough to burn me out.
For a long time, I wanted to blame the church for that. The pastor. The people. It was definitely someone else’s fault that I got burned out. That I walked away feeling defeated, used, mistreated, & ready to jump on the “I love Jesus just not church” bandwagon.
As I find myself two years later already quite involved in church again & enjoying it, I’ve had to own something – it wasn’t church that burned me out, it was my approach to it.
Being my stubborn self I had to be burned to the ground before I could grow back healthier. There was no telling me anything to help me put out the fire before it raged out of control. I needed to learn how to set healthy boundaries. I needed to learn it was okay to say no, to step back. I needed to walk in humility without the mindset of “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.”
In the beauty of the ashes I found those lessons. I found an identity apart from my work. I found a relationship with God that wasn’t based on my doing for Him, but on my being with Him.
I’d be lying if I said I had it all figured out. That I knew how to put into practice those things I’ve learned. But the truth is whether I like not the Martha in me, the taskmaster, still rears it’s ugly head where there are things to get done.
But that’s not the church’s fault. That’s not a pastor’s fault. Volunteers’ fault. A congregation’s fault. No, no one can own that except me.
When I go and sit on the floor in a big circle as we gather for a devotion before heading out I am overwhelmed at what is around me. It’s a group of mostly 20 & 30 somethings, all with incredibly different stories, all from different churches…some not from any church. No one comes out of obligation. No one is getting credit for being there. They come compelled by one thing: love. And that love is the foundation of a community not just among those of us serving but the people we serve as well. It’s grown in size since I first visited but it still feels like a big group of friends getting together to cook some food and give it to those in need. A community strung together by love and a heart for justice. (full original post here)
Parts of that community have thoroughly bled over into other areas of my life here in Nashville. And I love that. Although I haven’t been with them in a while, that community still holds a special place in my heart. I will forever remember it as a group of people & a shared experienced that altered the course of my life.
Do you have communities like that in your life? I’d love to hear their stories!
When we are present, we see that there really is a Divine Plan and that it is happening right now. Consciously participating in the miraculous unfolding of reality is the Holy Work, and it is the greatest source of satisfaction that we can have. (from “Understanding the Enneagram”)
Whether it’s seeing the stories written in a friend’s hands of a land far away, catching the light on Spring blossoms, the setting sun hitting the grass just right, the vibrant colors of spring, soaking up the warm sunshine, running through the falling rain, the urban textures of metal & brick, broken glass, a worn out sign, or weathered wood; the ordinary becomes truly magical when you stop long enough to soak it in.
Three months into focusing on seeing, I’ve come to realize that seeing cannot help but foster gratitude; which is ultimately worship. And as a creature designed to worship my Creator, I am without question most alive when I worship. And so, seeing is life. Seeing the magical in the ordinary has become my key to life. When my soul feels parched, my heart heavy, seeing quenches the thirst & slowly my heart lifts its head to see the beauty & life not just on the other side of the struggle but right in the middle of it.
To consciously participate in the miraculous unfolding of reality…that is my goal this week. Will you join me?