Some of the stories I wanted to write would necessitate that I awaken sleeping giants that I didn’t want to disturb. In order to write with any authority, I would have to relive some of my past.
Some of the stories were about things better left unsaid, things that would blatantly disregard the admonition of my elders, who taught me that I had nothing nice to say then say nothing. My proclamations would not be welcome everywhere. Unlike the articles and how-to books I’d written previously, essays, being in the first-person singular, would require confessing rather than preaching.”Gregg Levoy, Callings
Sometimes Followers Get Lost
Somewhere in my sixth decade of life, I got lost.
Very, very lost.
It wasn’t obvious from the outside, as I seem to have ‘living behind a facade,’ mastered. At least, until God, in his divine mercy, started making it very difficult to live that way.
My sixth decade started well. I went back to school to obtain my Masters degree to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
One by one, my children flew away from the nest to start their own adult lives.
I somehow managed to publish my second book.
But in the in-between, life for me got really hard. My identity as a “mother” faced a serious transition period. Oppressive words and actions were thrown my way, unexpectedly within the walls of my church, deteriorating an already weak emotional state. A daughter faced a lift-altering brain surgery. An aging mother faced brain surgery and then entered a season of one medical emergency after another. (We are still in that season, actually). We left our home church and if I am honest, “I” wasn’t quite sure I ever wanted to go back to church.
A Complete and Total Crisis of Faith
As hard as this is to write, I’m going to. In all my years of writing, blogging, vlogging, and authoring “words,” I’ve promised I would be nothing but honest. Honest to a fault, maybe, but honest I will be. As Gregg Levoy writes in my new favorite book (manual) on life, Callings, “Some of the stories I wanted to write would necessitate that I awaken sleeping giants that I didn’t want to disturb. In order to write with any authority, I would have to relive some of my past.”
I really “don’t” want to relive my past, but in order to “write with any authority” and “authenticity,” I find I must.
During my sixth decade, 50-59 years old, it seemed I was still “accomplishing” quite a bit, but privately, I was in a crisis of faith. Maybe better defined as a “crisis of churchgoing.”
My crisis didn’t involve God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit. It involved the ways and manner in which “evangelicals” were “doing church.”
Somewhere in the middle of those “ways and manners,” I got lost. I couldn’t find authenticity, especially in my own life.
The existential question, “Who am I?” kept me up at night.
A once-teetotaler, I started drinking wine. Sometimes, too much wine. Attending a church where wine, beer, and cocktails were permissible and perfectly fine, I thought, I can do this. It is okay.
In many ways, I went from the far right to far/middle left, at least in my perceptions, and privately, found myself without the compass I had carried for so long. In his work, The Courageous Follower, author and executive coach, Ira Chaliff, writes, “Followers and leaders both orbit around the purpose; followers do not orbit around the leader.”
Somewhere along my spiritual journey, “church” and “orbiting around the leaders in those churches,” had become my identity. I found myself following “men” and “women” and seeking “public platforms” and “praise of others” instead of following Christ. My value, worth, and dignity depended on winning their favor in order to feel better about myself and my purpose on earth.
Reflections of Regret
I have many, many regrets from my sixth decade. Some tell me I’m being hard on myself. They are probably right. One truth I am certain about: I needed to get lost.
Getting lost required that I get directions.
I think of this season in this way now.
The many roads of regret helped me find the highway towards wholeness.
Poet David Whyte speaks of regret in such a meaningful way. He writes, “Regret is a short, evocative and achingly beautiful word; an elegy to lost possibilities. To admit regret is to understand we are fallible; that there are powers in the world beyond us; Fully experienced, regret turns our eyes, attentive and alert to a future possibly lived better than our past.”
Shame researcher, Brene Brown, adds, “Owning our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerability is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy–the experiences that make us most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of light.”
Welcome to a New Decade of MORE
Sometimes we have to get lost in order to find a new way of living life.
Sometimes we have to get lost and meet “Regret” face-to-face, so she can lead us to “see” our humanity and frailty and guide us to “a future possibly lived better than our past.”
I’m so happy to say that I’m starting this new decade (2020 and my seventh decade of life) closer to God than ever. My crisis of faith became a crucible of hope; extracting the dross of unhealthy, disabling patterns and illuminating healthy, empowering practices.
I’ve shaken off shame and feel as if I have come home to the woman God created me to be.
I’ve never felt more whole. More healthy. More at peace with myself.
And, I want MORE for you, too.
Please read this week’s eNewsletter, dedicated to my one-word for 2020: more.
Let’s believe God for MORE of all things LIFE-GIVING: more love, more joy, more peace, more self-control, more kindness…well, just plain MORE of all HIS kingdom has to offer.