Whew. I can’t even tell you what the past few months have been like other than to say: Ouch. Work. Yawn. Sob. Repeat.
It’s a long story and it’s bittersweetly a combo of new beginnings like a renovating a building of our own for our 12 year old church plant after years of being nomadic combined with some real challenges with our business and parenting, the sudden death of a beloved family friend, other deaths of other things that are hard to explain all combined with exhaustion and feeling completely 1. Inadequate 2. Overwhelmed 3. Brokenhearted.
What I wouldn't give for a re-do on August through October, you guys.
Since as long as I can remember I’ve been in the business (or calling or vocation?) of meeting needs. I cut my teeth working in the non-profit sector straight out of college working with third world poverty and continued on in working in local non-denominational church in our very first world society. But, the amount of extreme need just shifted from huts being burned down in tribal wars to relationships being consumed by internet porn, greed or the like. We’re all broken everywhere and there’s always something we can do to bring some comfort and help, right? But 20+ years into this lifestyle I realize that my desire to help or fix has brought me to very unhealthy place. This week in church planting? An invitation to sing karaoke to celebrate the birthday of a beautiful staff member on the same night as an invitation to sing around a campfire for a college aged daughter homebound by hospice care for inoperable cancer who is part of our church community along with her amazing, courageous single mom. This was last night. Songs of joy and songs of mourning all in the same neighborhood. A soul rollercoaster that leaves you feeling pretty nauseous a lot of the time if I'm honest.
Last summer while towing our old trailer for a camping trip my husband and I listened to Anne Lamott’s recent (genius) Ted Talk (might I add that while most people have their talk memorized Queen Anne just needs to read her talk and it’s still a home run) and right around 3:30 in the talk wrecked me. She says:
HOLY FREAKING ANNE.
And so I began praying,
Dear Heavenly "Not Me", Help.
Last week I read this passage in Matthew where Jesus challenges his twelve friends and fellow travelers, aka the disciples. I’ve read it hundreds of times in my life but last week was different.
Matthew 10:7-14, NIV
7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.
It wasn’t just a passage I was reading that morning clenching my coffee last week…it was permission.
Like God himself saying to me:
My message and kingdom is Wholeness... and the way that wholeness comes closer to all the brokenness surrounding you is through you. You're the channel of it. You might not feel equipped because you don't even feel very whole (given you're the one who is looking for their phone in their purse while ON THEIR PHONE) and you won’t be bringing the stuff with you that you might need or want. You might not be able to pack your cute shoes and have to wear sensible ones, I know. And you're an over-packer, I know that too. Risk that I’ve got your back in this no matter how big the hill you’re climbing. Keep in mind that in your life you’ve been given so much so give that generously to others- and somewhere in that process… you’ll get what you need.
BUT if you try to do something good and you get hurt in the process, LET YOUR PEACE RETURN TO YOU.
Peacemakers gotta keep some for themselves. Keep your own peace, kid.
Sometimes you can't make the peace, you have to take it. Peacetaker. You can be that too.
Some things are just un-rectifiable or un-understandable and no amount of try will be the fix. You're not me and I don't expect you to be.
Literally and figuratively walk away… some places aren’t for you. Some relationships won’t be what you hoped they’d be and never will. Get rid of what reminds you of that place…don’t spend any more time there… SHAKE THE DUST and keep on traveling.
I’ve spent time in leper colonies and in dysfunctional relationships and people in both can be too far gone for healing. So sad but also true. We can only hope for healthier horizons elsewhere. It's ok not to stay there.
So, with the dawn of a new month starting, I’m making November my month of gratitude, personal peacekeeping and dust shaking, HARD. Dust shaking SO hard. I might even throw the shoes away and if you knew how much I love my shoes you’d see the bigness of this deal (speaking of, both pairs of shoes in the photos in this post fell apart on me this summer and I can’t even bring myself to pitch them and want to fix them- Birkenstocks and Chacos, I can't quit you, we've been through to much together-- obvs this issue runs deep).
I’ll leave you with this piece by poet/artist Anis Mojgani – I love it and him so much. Here’s a clip from an album I had on repeat two summers ago where he collaborated with Mat Kearney. Blows my mind every time.
Peace to you, my fellow Peacemakers, PeaceTakers and Dust Shakers.
Let's do this.