Welcome 2012! A New Year brings a new resolve to write the blog more regularly. After spending the last few days trying to decide when and how to jump back into the blog pond, here comes inspiration from this brand new Friday Five, thanks to kathrynzj at RevGalBlogPals.
- Don’t take anything personally. Receiving someone seriously (respectfully, attentively) is more helpful. Whether it’s a cut-to-the-heart criticism or a glowing compliment, it says much more about the one who delivers it than the one to whom it is delivered. This “a-ha” was courtesy of Don Miguel Ruiz’ book The Four Agreements. Each is simple (not necessarily easy) and “a-ha”-inducing:
- I am still standing. The title of one of my favorite Elton John songs, “I’m Still Standing” could be the title of the “a-ha” moment I had during one particularly dark moment as I was living through the aftermath of the end of my 23-year marriage. I couldn’t see even as far as the next moment. No way could I figure out what I would do or how I could make it financially, emotionally, physically, professionally — you name it. It all seemed hopeless and empty. And then I took an honest, more objective, inventory of what was really there. I had food in the house; I had a house to live in; I had children who loved me and who hadn’t rejected me; I could count on some friends to be friends; I had a job (two jobs actually!) and income capability . . . the list probably went on, but it didn’t need to. It wasn’t even about “counting your blessings” but rather seeing all that is there rather than what isn’t there.
- I’m just not that into . . . Christianity. The “a-ha” was finding out that neither was Jesus. Jesus was a Jewish rabbi and carpenter who predated Christianity. Jesus showed us what God is like, not what religion should be about. Jesus embodied life and love, not law and rules. Jesus welcomed and included and invited and turned things upside-down, all the while pissing off the powers-that-be and the religious apologists and traditionalists. A-ha! Maybe it’s OK to be a Jesus-called, Christ-devoted pastor serving the institutional church and appreciating church history, and still not be (too much) into the religion of Christianity.
- I’m more suited for interim ministry than settled pastorates. It turns out that it is possible to be successful by certain standards, and still be unfaithful to the real me. So, now I am through measuring “ministry success” by particular accomplishments or by how well-received I am in congregations I serve. I have been very blessed in each setting in different ways. But in interim ministry, I am more ME, more authentic and free, and I have more fun and get to play games. A-ha! Maybe those I serve will be more free, too!
- I’m older than I thought I was! I know very well that I’m 58 years old, but when I got an invitation to the denomination’s retirement planning seminar — two years ago! — and realized that invitation wasn’t extended at all prematurely, it was a real, and not-altogether-unpleasant, “a-ha” moment. You mean I get to be this age and still feel this good and enjoy life this much?! WOW!