Sorry I haven't blogged in awhile. I know I have a few occasional readers whose insomnia must be cured.
My life has become rather tumultuous lately. My family feels like a load of bricks on my back. My wife and I just had an attempt to buy a house completely fall apart on us. My last semester of seminary is quickly drawing to a close, a fact that is supposed to be bringing me copious amounts of joy, but currently is just bringing anxiety...
On top of all of this is the pesky issue of my role in the world. in a sermon I gave a couple of weeks ago, I described poverty as a lack of options. I am not poor. I have a lot of options, which brings up the issue of responsibility. What does one do with the options they have? How do I contribute to God's plan for the world?
In 2004 when I entered seminary, we were asked a question: what did you leave behind to come to seminary? I was reminded recently that my answer was that I gave up significance to come to seminary. I gave up the significance I had in the ministries Iwas involved in. I gave up the significance that one has in the lives of others when they see you on a day-in, day-out basis. I gave up my own sense of who I was and moved 3,000 miles across the country. In some ways, this has been the best part of the experience. What resulted was that I got to re-invent myself (to some extent) as a version of myself that is closer to what I want to be. The shadow side of this is that I also (unconsciously) drank several kool-aids: the Presbyterian Kool-Aid, the Reformed theology Kool-aid, the liturgical worship Kool-aid, and worst of all, the west coast kool-aid. I've started buying into systems that I formerly criticized. Grantted I still criticize, but I feel like criticism has more credability when you critique from within.
So what was that long, rambly proceeding paragraph about? Well, I left Pittsburgh and felt like I left a piece of my significance (identity?) behind. In the process of three years of seminary, I have gained new significances and identity markers which I now must leave behind again. I feel like people on the west coast have gotten to know a better version of me. Of course, that "better" version is only better (if he really is) because of maturing that has occurred here. For some strange reason, I have this fear that the things I learned and the places where I have grown will suddenly disappear as sson as I see the sign that read "Welcome to Pennsylvania".
Of course that's ridiculous. No one ever said fears have to be rational. I know that I will be the me that I am, the me that is growing, has grown, and will grow. It feels easier to wear the mantle of leadership out here. No one has baby pictures of me here. No one has seen me do stupid skits. Except my wife (on both counts).
The thing forme to focus on right now is what it is that actually gives me significance. It isn't a title, a degree, an ordination. It is my capacity to love and to be loved. I could certainly use some work on both of those areas...