This past week at the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches / Diocese of the Restoration Holy Convocation, through conversations with my wife and others, something was pointedly revealed to me about how I explain my 2023 journey to others. First, some context…
Right before Lent, it became very obvious to me that, in some ways, I was spiraling downward on a spiritual level as privately I began to become really cynical about the local church, my involvement in her, and ultimately my calling. I came to realize that to bleed on people in a selfless, sacrificial way is an honorable thing; but to bleed on people because of wounds you refuse to acknowledge is selfish and disgusting, and that’s what I was doing.
With that came a sense of the Lord saying—in love—to “shut up and sit down,” which was needed in order for me to begin the healing journey. To do that…
– I pulled back from guest preaching/teaching.
– My wife and I began attending a local church where no one knew me/us.
– I connected with one of my bishops, and on his advice, I took up celebrating the Lord’s Table daily as a Lenten practice.
– I simply sat on my porch with Jesus.
I did all these things in order to begin healing. Heal from my (mis)adventure in church planting, as well as some other unresolved church hurt. I also began the process of untangling the strangling mess of my faith journey and sense of calling, as I never truly separated them. After all, both happened so close together.
All that said, the journey isn’t over, but I’ve most certainly come a long way from where I was prior to the start of Lent in February.
Now, what have I realized? Well, I came to realize and had to confront—especially as it was lovingly pointed out—that I was carrying shame for being on this journey. For most of convocation, I sat and listened to various bishops, priests, and deacons share different things about what they were doing, and I felt shame for having pulled back to focus on myself. When people asked what I was up to, I was hesitant to answer. I did, but it was a shaky and awkward response while avoiding extended eye contact. The fact is, I should have simply stepped confidently into my answer…
– I’m in a season of healing and discerning.
– I’ve resumed doing some guest preaching.
– I’m weighing a few book ideas that I feel the Lord has placed on my heart.
Then, on the final day of the convocation, and later at my bishop’s house, I began finding that confidence and shared some, though not the book stuff. As expected, I’m still working on it.
The big, no-brainer takeaway is quite simple. There is no shame, no competition, no better than or worse than—we’re all just sinners and saints making our way in the world. In doing so, we’re striving, by the Holy Spirit, to be the men and women, through the Son, that the Father desires us to be.