Your story matters. So does mine.
I've been aware of this for years. I've taught the value of this reality to others. I've been fairly in touch with my storyline over the past couple decades. However, I recently had opportunity to sit with a LifePlanning coach - Doug Slaybaugh - to review my story and the significant turning points throughout my life in an effort to more fully understand what God is calling me to be and do.
It was a revealing, soul-stirring experience. And it still is.
The rearview mirror is a perspective tool that writers in scripture reference often. David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Moses, Paul and others encourage us to remember. To look over our shoulder, not to be defined by what's back there, but to never forget where we've been. To look at the past, not getting caught up in regret, but celebrating God's faithfulness.
Looking in my rearview mirror brought perspective to me that is greater than the memories I tend to most easily hold on to. It reminded me of the value of journey, of process...over time. And I remembered what a therapist brilliantly summarized for me years ago:
Mine is a story of shame and confusion. In part. It's also a story of experiential grace, of unconditional love and acceptance. Yeah, there's some productive, fruitful stuff in there too.
Bottom line is - I'm still healing. I'm still growing. I'm still maturing. I'm still... The story isn't over, so it's still process. It's still an ongoing journey. And I have amazing company. I have renewed focus for this next season.
It's easy to see ourselves as our profession - what we do. Maybe especially as pastor people. Our relationships, church-world, followership of Jesus, leadership...it all gets easily confused. The lines get blurred (thanks a lot, Robin Thicke, for the weird images that phrase now represents.). I've spent way too much time listening to and living out of the imposter inside of me. You know, the performer. The me who cares too much about the approval of others. The wanna-be me who works hard to prove to God, self and others that "I'm good enough," that "I'm ok."
I started this LifePlanning process reflecting on these words from Brennan Manning's Abba's Child:
The recovery of passion starts with reappraising the value of the treasure, continues with letting the Great Rabbi hold us against his heart, and comes to fruition in a personal transformation of which we will not even be aware. Not surprisingly, the imposter shrinks as he discovers that, apart from Christ, his alleged virtues are but brilliant vices.
Truth is, while I want to be a better leader, I didn't engage this process to merely be a better leader. I want to serve people well as their pastor, trainer, coach, but these exercises weren't only about improving my serve.
I want to be who God made me to be. He created me. I'm his man, by his choice, his plan. And before I'm a pastor or trainer or anything else, I am a husband to Laura, and a dad to Liv. First things first. First people first.
I want to leverage the one and only voice he's given me. I want to be true to his calling on my life - out of the rich, diverse, good, bad, and ugly storyline I've experienced. I want to live out his story through my story.
Looking back, God's faithfulness rises above every other element in my story. I'm certain the same is true in yours. The question is:
- Will we see it?
- And how will we respond to it?
I owe him my life. Today and the day after that and the one after that.
I'm grateful for the pause and the work to remember. And I'm grateful for the vision that calls me forward. I want to connect broken people to God's unconditional love, hope, and healing. It's what I must do.
Oh, and by the way - I'm still a pastor at Granger Community Church. So grateful.