perhaps you have, too. perhaps you’ve fallen victim to an invitation that was ever so enticing. your guard was already down. you weren’t giving your full attention to what you’ve been called to do. or perhaps you’ve not even been settled on your calling. essentially you’ve been an easy person to distract, a perfect target. so when those people came calling, when they spun a story, used a scare tactic, met a need…it worked. and now you’re off the scaffold. you’re on the ground. you’re somewhere you’re not supposed to be.
and sometimes the person spitting out the lies is you.
hmm. not quite where i thought i was going with this post. it helps to start writing and then put writing aside. a fresh perspective often comes with a new day. let’s break this down a little further by splitting it up into parts. that seems to be an effective way for me to get my head around things.
i used that word earlier and imagine that some of you, like me, often experience an imperceptible twinge when you hear that word because, for heaven’s sake, we have yet to be 100% settled on what our calling looks like. just a few weeks ago, i realized that i wasn’t yet at peace with being a pastor. yes, it’s a category of people that my employers say i belong to but so is “administrator” and that’s a far easier word for me to wrap my life around. and sometimes i do almost literally wrap my life around the administrative tasks i’ve been given. i even create more of them when i sense a lack of things to do. doing is queen. being is torture. okay, it’s not at all that bad but it’s the harder road. being is the first call of a pastor, hence my ability to yet feel settled there.
the more i think about “calling”, the more i think about faithfulness. whether or not i’m able to click my heals at the thought of where God has called me to be, i am where i am and i need to be faithful where i am. when work kicks my tail, it’s easy to tell myself lies about what brought me here. so it’s not enough to be able to say that i’ve been called to be a pastor. i have to be willing, come what may, to remain faithful to the work of a pastor.
the very fact that my work is the first example of “calling” that came to mind is evidence of my production-oriented nature. in reality, faithfulness in my marriage is a call, too, and it trumps work any day a million times over. i talk about marriage a lot, not because i think it’s a superior state but because i’m married, i value it, and i want others to value marital commitment, too. if i, for a moment, forget my calling to be a faithful wife, stupid things happen. i get annoyed by things that don’t matter such as the placement of the dish towel. if i don’t check myself, the little things build and instead of addressing serious things (which are bound to build simultaneously), i get fussy and make the little things big. i lose site of what faithfulness requires: humility, patience, grace, forgiveness, and the ability to stop being stupid…
we’re called to various things. whether or not we’ve fully made sense of those things, we have to commit to faithfulness otherwise the wall becomes just another good idea that someone else can deal with.
another reason we come down off the wall is the past. just a few days ago someone asked me what i wanted to do with the rest of my life and i didn’t even hesitate. i talked about teaching, how much i’d enjoyed the classroom years before and how i just don’t know what i’d teach these days; there’s no subject that grips me.
and it’s all true. i loved the classroom. i loved my students. i loved thinking of ways to help them learn how to write quality sentences and then string them together into quality paragraphs. i even remember a lecture i gave about the benefits of the semicolon. and they got it. they enjoyed it. semicolons made many appearances in papers after that. and above that, i enjoyed splitting my students up into groups and having them workshop their work. they learned to enjoy their group-mates. it was part writing growth, part relationship growth. success. the hardest part was grading but in-class time trumped that a thousand times over.
that memory is strong. that memory brings a smile to my face. if i stay in that memory too long, i come down off the wall.
do you have a memory that’s calling to you, a memory that’s distracting you from faithfulness to where you are right now?
- maybe it’s a positive memory that causes you to yearn for the way things used to be in a particular relationship. and instead of mending that relationship, you’re moving on to another. and because you’re moving on to another, not trusting God to help you heal the first, you’re coming down off the wall. it’s impossible to be faithful to your call when your relationships are a mess. and if one relationship is a mess, you can be sure that others are a mess, also. and that new relationship has no solid foundation so it’s already a mess.
- maybe it’s a negative memory that causes you to doubt your ability. you’ve messed up, dropped the ball on a major issue at work. you haven’t been able to forgive yourself even if those you work with/for have affirmed their belief in you and have tried to help you move on. all you can think about is your mistake, your failure…and you’ve come down off the wall. it’s impossible to be faithful to your call when you’re self-deprecating. and don’t even entertain the idea of quitting this job; you’ll make a new employer miserable unless you can forgive yourself.
- maybe it’s a memory of loss that just depletes you. whenever you’re reminded of what you no longer have, you feel defeated and inadequate even if the loss isn’t your fault. you don’t knowingly blame yourself but you don’t give yourself time and space to grieve so you’re emotionally spent. and in that space, you’re of little emotional use to anyone else. they don’t know why you’re unavailable so they’re not forgiving and now they’re hurting you, too. you don’t even remember the wall. by the time you do, you’re many miles away. it’s impossible to be faithful to your call when you’re distant.
maybe it’s all of the above. maybe it’s something else. whatever it is, you…we…have to get back up the wall.
2013 has kicked my tail. loss disrupted relationships. feeling were hurt and my work suffered. it took pausing for a while for me to realize that i wasn’t being faithful to what i’ve been called to do. i forgot there was a wall. now i’m in the process of getting back up and i honestly pray that something in all these words helps you remain aware of and faithful to whatever your wall may be.
who knows. maybe i will figure out a subject that i really enjoy, get a PhD in it, and teach my heart out. but that’s not where i am. i must be faithful to where i am. if i believe God brought me to where i am then where i am is where i need to be, just like Nehemiah. i must be present. i can’t just show up. i have to be and i have to be faithful. i must heal. i must extend healing and receive healing so that i can be faithful. i have to get back up my wall. when i do, we do and we win.
this post goes hand in hand with yesterday’s post. you may want to read it, too. it’s called “don’t come down“.