Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Nine Years Later

Nine years ago this month, I took a huge step of faith.

I didn't feel worthy. I wasn't sure how I'd begin to do what I was being asked to do.

But these things, I did know:
  • I was born to create music.
  • I believe that a local community of spiritual seekers - a church - is the hope of the world.
  • Working in the same community as my kids' schools would be better than working - for more money and better benefits - 45 minutes away.
  • Somebody believed in me, even when I didn't much believe in myself; and that mattered.
  • In the deepest, most secret parts of my soul, I'd always yearned to be 'in ministry'. 
  • It was the right time, and the right place.
Even now, I marvel at how it happened. It was an odd set of circumstances, most of which had nothing to do with me. And yet, there I was, in a place where the things I did know propelled me into a place I was not yet sure of.

Last week I was having A Very Bad Day. I have learned that often, a Very Bad Day, left unchecked, can internalize into a dangerous spiral of depression and negative thoughts. Then, The Very Bad Day can turn into An Awful Weekend and people get hurt and lots of time gets wasted.

Here's the thing: If you know you're starting a downward spiral, and you know that the right word at the right time from somebody you trust can help put the brakes on, it's okay to ask. It took me a long, long time to be okay with that; it seemed selfish and self-absorbed to say, "Hey, tell me something good about myself. Tell me I'm awesome. Tell me you still like me. Tell me you'd marry me all over again. Tell me you still want to be my friend." And maybe it is childish and ridiculous, but really? I DON'T CARE. 

I have figured out how to cope and, in most cases, how to stave off The Very Bad Feelings. So, I simply ask. For help.

I sent a text to a very good friend, one that I trusted not to think ill of me (or, if so, to have the good sense not to say so).

And my friend took the time to reply, by sending a barrage of photos.

Each picture, so precious to me. People, lives, that matter. Stories that I know, that are still unfolding. Lives, changed. Beautiful people. What I see in these photos is the tremendous privilege and opportunity I have been given, a window seat into the richness of all the joy and sorrow of life. It matters.

A few words followed as well. It helped.

One of the dreamers who works
alongside us; he makes
numbers beautiful.
The truth is, nine years ago I took the job offered to me by Brian Hughes, an invitation to work alongside him, his wife and a handful of other dreamers in a crazy, inspired attempt to bring hope and healing to a rural community. I had few qualifications and was, frankly, an emotional wreck. 

But it was exactly where I needed to be.

Nine years later, I have had my share of Very Bad Days. Life is complicated. Church work is not easy. But I cannot imagine doing anything else with my life. Our team has grown to include a much larger staff, lots of people sharing the joy of making a difference and working together to bring light to an often-darkened world. 

Today, four people who are dear to my heart in ways that I can't even express took charge of our staff time together to read words of affirmation (and slight ridicule; I was told I was "nuts". They wore scarves they found in my office stash and mocked me for the strange collection of junk I hoard.) Underneath the words the spoke, my dear friend Matthew noodled, a skill he has honed under my tutelage for the past year or two. I could not imagine a finer tribute.

It was perfect and sweet and I was just. so. proud. 

I am thankful for nine years of serving a church that matters, in a community that cares; the same place that has nurtured, loved and educated my children has become my home. On The Very Bad Days and The Awesome Days, there's no place I'd rather be. 

Today, I am grateful for ten years in this town, and nine years at this place of hope and healing. 



Susan said...

A great reinforcement to those of us who keep our bad days to ourselves (me included) ... thank you for this post -- I will have to re-think this now. And congratulations on your 9 years!

annie said...

Congratulations, Beth! It's been a privilege to watch from afar as you have grown and bloomed into this work!