Thursday, August 9, 2012

Internal Rhythms

I often joke that there are really only three type of people in the world:  Leaders, Followers and “Get The Hell Out of My Way I’m listening to the beat of my own drum” people.  How’s that for a gross overgeneralization!  All of my life I have been told I am a leader.  I have excelled in leadership and I have loved being a part of leadership teams time and again.  Yet I have a huge oversensitivity to the opinions of others, which is also known as a character weakness called vanity.  I have ached to be a “Get the Hell Out Of My Way” (or GTHOMW) woman because I have gone against the grain for most of my life, and though I eventually listen for my internal rhythms, it comes at a great cost for me because I care way too much what other people will think.

I have three children and I have bred one of each personality types, how’s that for staying consistent with my gross overgeneralization.  My oldest son is a leader and I knew it before he was 2 years old.  He loves to be in charge, but not just to be the boss of someone.  He loves it because it means he gets to create new and amazing things... from lego creations to new video game ideas.  And yes, he does rather love people following him, because he is after all still a human child, and a first born.  

My daughter, my middle child came, out of the womb as a GTHOMW person.  Most of the stories that have landed on this blog throughout the years that involve her clearly demonstrate this truth.  I have always envied this about her and I do my best to protect it fiercely, because she is growing up girl in our culture.  She is not supposed to be so independent according to the cultural voices that are trying to strip back the gender equality liberties in our age.  She is very good at listening to her internal navigation system and it is no accident that I began to learn to listen to my own rhythms as I carried her inside of me.  She helps lead me into freedom in this area as she grows, because I know I need to stay just a half step ahead of her in order to help her journey through childhood.

Then there is my sweet third born child, my youngest son.  He came out a deep thinker and excellent observer from the beginning and so combine that with being the youngest, he was destined to be a follower.  Before I had him, I believe I unconsciously judged followers...even while leading them.  Not because I think I am necessarily better, but because I could not wrap my mind around something I have never been and because of fear of the unknown, I mentally discounted the vital role of followers.  Without followers after all, we would not have society, democracy, industrialization, places of worship, armed services, commerce, etc.  Once my youngest came into my family, I began to relax my understanding of the world and I am a better mother and woman as a result.

So what in the world does this all have to do with anything that would be remotely interesting to anyone but me?  Honestly, I do not know, but I do have a point in all of this.  I want to live my life with purpose and most people I journey through life with are concerned with the same core things that I am.  Who am I and does who I am matter?  If I was created to be a part of something bigger what is it and do I have to submit?  And if I am created with a certain purpose... how in the world to I find my way to it, let alone live within it?

The story of Moses keeps coming up for me and I believe that it is because my path follows a similar rhythm.  Now I will not be leading God’s people out of slavery, but I have been led out of a spiritual slavery and want to share my journey through, even as I am still in the middle of the desert.  As I have mentioned before, I worked at a church for seven years and that ministry just happened to be the church I was raised up in.  I loved being in ministry and sharing life with the young people of our community, yet I was once a young person in that same community and hadn’t fully processed my own experiences.  Therefore ministry in that environment was a challenge at times, but then again, when is ministering to young people not a challenge.  I was grateful to have a perspective that no one else could have as I led the ministry into a new time of welcoming young people.  I helped to build a vital ministry for young people and their families and it was many years between the vision of the mission and the reality of the mission.  

I was called out of that ministry somewhere in between the vision and the reality. I was growing my little girl inside of me, and thus learning to follow my own navigation which led me to retire, and yet I was so mixed in emotions of passing the baton.  I held onto every harsh criticism that was communicated verbally and much more powerfully non-verbally by those around me in that season.  The mission to welcome noisy children and then teenagers...that was my baby, could I pry my fingers away from a very firm grip on the inner workings of that ministry?  Could I step back and still be a part of the community?  The years that followed my retirement from vocational ministry became my desert years... and I had to shake out the criticisms in order to find my way back to a place of rest and peace.  

I have often spoken of the truth that I am in my desert years here in the blog space as I processed the good, the bad, and the ugly of “ministry”.  I really started blogging once I was not being in “ministry”  anymore but instead being in the mess of toddlers, diapers, messes and joys.  Eventually I made peace with the truth that my church ministry days were no less important than my home ministry days.  I also needed to step away from the community for almost six years.  I needed to grow.  I needed to experience other churches, and I also needed to experience not being a part of any faith community for a season.  All of these years have developed my character greatly; but I was still carrying around unresolved conflict from the harsh stuff I was clinging to... that is until last week.

Last week I had a wonderful moment of connection that has given me some new insight and clarity and I want to share.  I have returned to the community that has been my grounding throughout my life.  I came back with my three kids and was welcomed with open arms and my kids were too.  We have been inconsistently worshipping there for a year now and at Vacation Bible School this year, I got to assist several people I used to be charged with leading, and I am so much more joyful now and content with wiping down tables, gluing cardboard together and sneaking to the back of the sanctuary while others lead my children in grace-filled living.  I was so afraid that like Moses, I would be banned from entering the promised land someday, because I had somehow upset God by being human and being broken.  I had been given the vision, was a core part of the team that ushered in a new era at my church, and then I was not there to see very much of the fruit.  Yet now I have been led back and not only have I been shown what God was up to all of these years, I have been invited in and am now being ministered to in the midst of it all.  The moment of connection was this:  When I began my time in ministry, I was charged with overseeing things like VBS and felt a tremendous pressure to be able to pull off the type of program that is now done every year. The two women that I got to assist this year were with me then and looking for my direction.  They were both my wing women... and last week I got to be theirs.  I love that!  I also was able to resolve some unconscious unrest and harsh judgement against myself for not doing better all of those years ago.  If it had not been for my time of helping start something with mostly nothing except a dream, almost all of the people now executing this awesome program would not be in this community.  I played my part exactly how I was charged to do so, and because of that God filled in the gap and made it all come together in the right timing.  Of this I can be certain and I am humbled.

I said at the beginning of this ramble that I am a leader who has issues with vanity.  I listen to the harsh comments and the judging undertones way too much and have been suffering just below the surface as a result.  This year as I was wiping down tables after dinner, God was wiping clean my memory of the harsh internal monologue I have been clinging to.  I know as much as I know anything that healing came my way last week and I am free to move forward and love more fully.  So here is my take away from this experience:  God uses our blind spots and our brokenness to propel our individual and our collective narratives to the next chapter of evolution...always.  That is why we must know God, know ourselves, and know our story through time.  That is where the good stuff is.  It’s in the seasons of leading, following, and trusting an internal rhythm that is not publicly visible.  It’s in the silence and in the stillness.  May you find your quiet space today.

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