Saturday, January 29, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
"In early January it was brought to my attention that the general feeling of the congregation was that I am not meeting the expectations of a full-time minister. It was expressed to me that this disappointment was primarily in two areas, with my preaching and with my people skills. The hope in letting me know this was that I would be able to make changes toward meeting this congregation’s expectations, but my preaching and my people reflect the nature of who I am and that makes them very, very difficult to change. In order to make the fruitful changes necessary I would need to change my personality, and that is something I cannot do. Instead, I come before you today to let you know that in 2011 I will be partnering with the leadership of this congregation to transition into another ministry in a way that is best for me, my family, and this congregation.
"That makes 2011 a year of transition for all of us. Kalyn and I will at some point be moving, and you will be searching for another minister. It will be a year of challenges, but also a year of new opportunities. So as we continue into this new year, I would like to share with you a few thoughts that are on my mind and in my heart.
"First, I thank you for the past few years. When Kalyn and I first moved here it was for a career change. I had been a teacher, but felt called, sometimes shoved, to ministry. At the same time, I had always been intimidated by ministry, the reasons for that I have shared with you before. Did I really want to dedicate my life to full-time ministry? Was I okay with my family living this life-style? Did I have gifts that could serve in this capacity? Did I trust God to care for us? Those questions have all been answered.
"This congregation has also provided me and my family with an income and a place to call home. We’ve always had food on our plates and been able to pay the bills. We’ve enjoyed connecting with many of you and many of your children. We’ve enjoyed the bonfires and the games of sardines. We’ve enjoyed visiting with you in your homes and having many of you over to ours. I have been humbled by your willingness to invite me into your lives during times of crisis. I’ve enjoyed the van rides and listening to the teens sing along to the daily top five. The hospitality that has been shown to us has meant a great deal. We’ll have good memories from here, and we have you to thank for that.
"I have tried to meet the expectations of this congregation. Sometimes I have; sometimes I have not, but it has all provided me with a chance to grow and mature both as a person and as a minister, something that is seldom pleasant, but always necessary. Ministers never have the full support of every member of their congregations, so to those of you who feel slighted or hurt or ignored by something I have done or said, or something I have failed to do or say, I am sorry.
"After two and a half years it is a difficult thing to acknowledge the fact that my gifts and strengths are not the gifts and strengths this congregation needs, but that seems to be where we’re at. Farmington is a congregation with great potential, but I was not the right minister to help you realize that potential. I wish that were not the case, and I hope and pray that the minister after me will help you achieve your hopes and dreams.
"In the interim, I will continue to work and serve this congregation to the best of my ability. I pray that God continues to watch over us all, to protect us and to lead us into new, green pastures. I truly hope and pray that the Lord will bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord will lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."
Sunday, January 16, 2011
What I can't seem to get used to is just how intensely I feel when it comes to Shepherd. The amount of love I feel when I look at him causes an achy feeling when I inhale. The smallest expression from him (a grin, a furrowed brow, a pout) instantly captivates my attention and blurs my surroundings. In all honesty, all of this intensity is flat out frightening.
I've been trying to figure out why I feel this much this strongly about one person. It isn't a quantitative issue; I don't love Shepherd more than BJ. I've come to decide that it is more an issue of vulnerability. All loving relationships leave a person at least somewhat vulnerable. With BJ, I consciously subjected myself to the vulnerability. When I told him I loved him for the first time in an ACU parking lot, I knew that I was opening myself to the possibility of rejection, but I felt that the shot at love was worth the risk of heartbreak. Each time we took our relationship to a deeper level, I knew that I was simultaneously increasing how badly I would hurt if our relationship ended. With Shepherd, there was not an incremental process of becoming more and more vulnerable. He was just born, and suddenly I knew that anytime he hurts or suffers or struggles, I will feel all of that pain, perhaps worse than he will. And this realization was and has continued to be terrifying.
This past week, an aunt of my best friend lost her 22 year old son in a car accident. When I think about this mother, I can barely breath. I pray for her and the unimaginable pain she must be experiencing, and like all mothers when they hear news of this sort, I attach a prayer for my own son's safety and health. But despite all the fear that I'm finding is part of motherhood, the bare-naked vulnerability of this office, I am absolutely certain it is worth the risk. If Shepherd learns nothing else from me in these next 18 years as I raise him, I hope he learns this: he is worth being loved, and love is no small thing.