Two years ago, I created this website as an attempt to reach a larger audience. After a year of sending out paper and electronic resumes to congregations and hearing nothing back, I decided that I needed to broaden my horizons and digitize myself. I created this website as a sort of digital resume, one that I hoped would attract more interest. It did not. In fact, for as much work as I put in to it, it was a flaming failure. One of many over the past four or five years.
Since it is obvious that a career in congregational ministry is no longer the path that I am trodding, I have to ask myself a simple question--"Now what?" Well, I guess it is not so simple. This is a question that has plagued many a man and woman for much longer than you or I have walked around this world. "Now what?" encapsulates the moment of change, the moment when we realize that what we had been doing in the previous moment is no longer beneficial. Our method of acting in the world (what some will call "living") has become counterproductive (I love this word) to our very existence. As Friedman writes in Generation to Generation, change comes when we realize that staying the same is more painful than changing.
It has been a painful decision to make--to give up on returning to church work. I have denying this reality for a couple of years now. I have sheltered myself from the pain of the reality because I so badly wanted to get back to it. I have never wanted to do anything more than preach and teach. Yet, for whatever reason, God has decided that my time as a church minister has come to an end. Perhaps I will return to congregational work. Perhaps I will look back on this time someday and be thankful for failing. Perhaps I will be able to embrace a new time of growth that I have been denying myself be trying to hold on to what was lost. Perhaps...
For whatever reason, my ministry has shifted from church work to hospital work. Maybe I am safer--scratch that--maybe the Church is safer with me not in it. Maybe I can do less damage to the institution by only ministering in remote conversations with the sick and suffering. There is also my teaching. Thanks be to God for the opportunity to teach at Kentucky Christian University. The continued opportunity that I receive to teach there tells me that, although my religious tradition has given up on me, that God (and my colleagues at KCU) have not. As I sit and wait to hear of which school I will join, I wait with anticipation as the fruition of a dream to teach at the college level draws closer to realization. I have gotten good at waiting.
But there is also another change that comes in the wake of the aforementioned deletion--I am changing one aspect of how I live and am embracing a side of myself that I have long denied. First, I am pledging myself to live a simple life--to remove myself from the equation and embrace the quest for peace. Those of you who know me will realize the severity of this decision because mine is neither a simple or peaceful life. Yet it is the type of life that I believe in my heart and soul that we are to live. I have allowed myself to get caught up in the trappings of American life, sacrificing my spirituality in the process. No more! I am drawing a line and crossing it no further! This will mean some radical changes in my life and in my family's life. Yet, it is a change that I believe must occur. I do not exactly know what this change will look like or how I will put it into action, yet I know that it is a journey that I must undertake.
Second, I am embracing my artistic side. Many years ago, I placed second in a local art show. I thought that I would always enjoy art. Yet, for some reason, I stopped painting and drawing. I took up photpgraphy, although that interest stopped when I got married. I love writing, yet I never seem to get anything written (which is ironic to say since I have written a lot the last three semesters because I have been writting manuscripts for my online lecture notes). I guess the point of all of this is that I must stop pretending to live--to live a life that others want me to live or will allow me to live--and start living the life that I want to live, a life that will allow me to finally find that peaceful serenity and spiritual fulfillment that I have been longing.
Here's to a new start!