Wednesday, August 15, 2007

a crisis of confidence

these past few weeks have been difficult ones for me. coming back from vacation i was ready to engage in summer and our community and i realized that in the hub-bub of prepping for the trip and being away we had kind of fallen off the map. i have been struggling with the realization that while i love this community it is not perfect. i am a bit of an optimistic denial junkie when i come upon something/someone new. i am so afraid to admit the flaws, that some things are wrong, or identify problems for fear that by beginning to do so everything will fall to pieces around me.

i am feeling so much better since i really spent time last week pondering all of this and put the pieces of the puzzle together last weekend. i have traced back a lot of the anxiety i was feeling to the end of last november. it was a grand month for me. i got to preach my first "sermon" (although i would never really call anything i'd want/do a sermon personally), i got to attend the national youth workers convention in cincinatti and then spoke at my first women's retreat. it was a high for me on a lot of levels.

december is such a month of inconsistencies - everyone's schedule changes, families tuck in and just the chaos of the holidays brings so much change. i enjoyed december, but felt pretty lost and alone for the rest of the winter months. it was a dry winter. liam was just coming out of his deep, dark place and i think i had been holding it together up to that point and when he got stronger i was able to be weak.

going away and being with our families on the holiday was nice in it's way, but it also really emphasized how very different we are from them and how little we really have in common with those who share our blood. it's a sad realization and left us both feeling a bit of grief. coming back to this place we held such high hopes (at least i did) for re-engaging with deep people, deep thoughts and cultivating rich community. the realization that much had moved on without us left me feeling so rejected.

rejection, whether real of perceived pushes major buttons in my life. especially church rejection. while none of this "rejection" was active, it was a kind of 'benevolent neglect' and still made me panic nonetheless - when i showed up somewhere i was welcomed, but my insecurities and the psycho tapes that play in my head wind me into a wobbly vulnerable place and eventually seclusion or begrudging participation in activities that i don't fully engage in because of my shredded self confidence. i am my worst enemy.

the big ah-ha that helped me this weekend was when i realized that there is a deep theological difference that i hold from my community here. our space here is very healing. many, like us, relocate here after woundings and major life changes. for a town of 5000 and a church of less than 300 when the students are here we have had 8-10 families transplant here since we have arrived. i love it because it is a hybrid of ancient, postmodern, charismatic & evangelical thought that is truly beautiful. i have learned so much about the holy spirit, prayer and healing since i have arrived. none of it is high-pressure, emotionally driven intensity, but a beautiful, welcoming space. very different from most of what we've seen in other churches.

the ah-ha i had this past weekend lies between what i believe and what many around me practice, although they may not "preach it". it is a subtle one, and the reason i think it was so hard for me to see.

i believe that while miracles are possible and do happen there is usually far more healing in the journey and that living in the tension of the "now and the not yet" is where god meets us. i believe that talking about the journey and telling our stories in the present tense, and not just the past is vital to real community. and i can sense that makes some people really uncomfortable.

i realized that most who come here broken are ministered to and expected to be "healed" and move from the healing category to the "healed" category. i am unable to do that. i have sensed frustration on the part of some in leadership that we haven't been miracles. that we are still living in the tension. that we can't seem post our addictions and struggles in the "past" column and move on. you see one of my super-hero powers is the inability to be fake. i just can't pretend.

i have observed this community for over 20 months now and have seen too many of the "healers" lives not being lived in freedom. i see their needs, so like my own, not owned or admitted for fear of loosing status, or healing, or admitting problems so that would indicate that their "faith" might not be real enough to "claim the miracle". again, these things are never said out loud. i just think that they come from roots of past churches and old theology that hasn't been brought into the light (yet).

i realized that i have felt like a failure because of this. for months now i have shamed myself and berated myself and felt the rejection of the perceived failure to take up the "healed" mantle and move past those things for the sake of their ministry. again, it is subtle. i have seen it blatantly in other churches. from the stage at our church these words aren't spoken, and actually support for what i am choosing is given - but deep down those pentecostal roots run deep and the pressure is passive, but it is there nonetheless.

in the netherworld between sleep and wakefulness this weekend i realized that i had believed that this meant that i was going backwards. broken, more broken than before. that i was faithless and if i just believed i wouldn't struggle so. as i shook off those thoughts i realized that the WHOLE person lives in the tension. the WHOLE person knows that the journey is about the process and living the emotions we are given fully and not medicating them away, but inviting god into the process. it felt like i was given my serenity and sanity back. i haven't changed. i didn't loose something i once had. i had just given it away momentarily because of this subtle pressure.

i have it back now and know that what i believe is mine. some people might be avoiding me because they don't want to be near the tension. that's okay. i don't have to pretend anymore that i believe i am "past" anything. i think one of the shortfalls of scripture (gasp) is that no one is ever tracked "after" the miracle happens. lazarus came back from the dead, but man i'm sure at some point afterward he was pretty pissed at jesus for letting him die. blind bartameus had to get a job now. he no longer could beg - he had no skills, he had to cope with the "after-affects" of the healing - it changed everything, it didn't make it all shiny and perfect. yes, he could see, but dang, now he could see. life still goes on. the process and the tension doesn't go away.

i no longer will abide by the silent pressure - the wounded healer is who i am called to be. not living out of my pain - but admitting it if it is real, inviting god into it and healing in the process. i will be grateful for the miraculous if it is bestowed upon me - but i am no longer doubting that this is the truth i am called to live out.

crisis averted.


wilsonian said...

You are one of my favourite super heros :)

And brilliant observation on bartameus!

anj said...

I love it when truth comes back to roost in my breast. When i know what I know, and there is peace. Hurray for Ah ha moments like the one you have experienced. I have my own story with the beginning stages of the movement you are finding community in - it was where I first heard the words "here and not yet" and "wounded healer,' where I learned to "see" the Holy Spirit fall on someone, and the need to pray for others and "bless what I saw the Father doing". It was much more than lingo, there was deep healing truth and reality there. I, too, have experienced that grief of spending time with families and learning that blood is not really that thick. Your post speaks to me in many ways; I am left with gratitude and hope that Way opens when we seek; even in the midst of imperfect community.

onionboy said...

You have stirred some thoughts in me that now seem more like a 'post' than a comment. I'll ;et you know if I publish it. In the mean time know how glad that I am for you. I hope I can say that and not seem trite. While it's possible I have misunderstood your direction and spun off on my own I think I resonate with what you have said and that I have never seen it more clearly lived out than in the Catholic community of which I am now a part.

Thank you for this well written, well lived post and God bless you.

And of course, that most descriptive phrase, the Wounded Healer, was given to us in the words and life of a most remarkable Catholic, Henri Nouwen.

O | |

bobbie said...

erin - *blush* thank you!

anj - i remember reading a post about a month ago about your "roots" and it made me smile. the last thing i ever want again is a "denomination" - but we are finding community for now. it is so new to me. thank you for the encouragement.

owen - i will never/have never, ever found you trite. i am so encouraged that this post connected with you - and even if it spun you in a totally different direction i am thrilled!

and yes, i received these beautiful words of the wounded healer at the knee of henri nouwen too. he formed much of who i am today. thank you again for your kind words!

Sarah Louise said...

THIS IS IT: i realized that most who come here broken are ministered to and expected to be "healed" and move from the healing category to the "healed" category.

Amen, sister, PREACH IT!!

sonja said...

wow ... this resonates so with me. I wrote almost the same thing a few weeks ago. So much of the church longs for the "beam me up, Scotty," kind of healing. But I really think we're called to a more Underground Railroad kind of journey with one another. "Beam me up" is clean and easy and doesn't really require a lot of our surrounding community. But traveling together to freedom on the Underground Railroad, now that's hard work and it's cold and frightening.

I love your superpowers and shining your light into your community.

Sarah Louise said...

"But traveling together to freedom on the Underground Railroad, now that's hard work and it's cold and frightening."

This is great stuff!!

I may have to post on this...


Patchouli said...

How many "amens" are allowed?

bobbie said...

sl - thank you - i can't wait to read your post!

sonja - oh my - what amazing metaphors for this! and funny ones too - i think i might use those if i ever get to teach again if you don't mind! :) i also want to read your post about this!

patch - i'll take all of 'em that i can get! :) miss you!

sonja said...

Hi Bobbie ... of course you may use them. I'm not certain that the Underground Railroad has as much traction in Canada as it does in the states. Anyway, here's the link to the post I wrote ... fwiw.

bobbie said...

actually we live IN THE TOWN where the underground railroad ended - we were FREEDOM here.

Keith said...
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