8/13/2015

Mile Markers and What Ifs

There's been quite a few changes in my life in the past two, almost three, years.

Probably the biggest, or at least most outwardly big, of which is that, 11 days ago, I packed everything I own into a trailer and moved to Nashville, TN to begin my Master's Degree.

I haven't written much on the blog about why I'm pursuing a Master's in Marriage and Family Counseling and Therapy. (I mean, I haven't written much on the blog, period.) And, maybe I'll write about that someday. But today, I wanted to write about how I decided to pursue it.

In 2007, I was four years into my career as a youth pastor and two years into my first job as the head of a ministry. But I was slowly (or, not so slowly) isolating myself from friends, coworkers, and my direct boss. Because of this, a divide began growing between the two of us. This led to tension, lack of chemistry, and just a general lack of enjoyment and fulfillment in working together.

So, he fired me. 

And that was the right call.

But, this post isn't about that job. It's just that getting fired from that job was the first mile marker on this journey.

After I got fired, I spent about another year in Southern California and then moved back to South Carolina. During that year, as well as after moving back, I continued to try my best to get another job in youth ministry.

I had no problem getting phone interviews at churches. And I had no problem, once on the phone, selling myself well enough to get them to fly me out for an in person interview. But, once I got to the in person interview, things always fell apart. But, I was determined. I was going to get another youth ministry job. After all, I was called. Wasn't I?

As the years passed, some of my character defects began surfacing in more and more obvious and demonstrative ways. Finally, on April 12, 2013, I decided that enough was enough and I needed to ask for help.

Mile two.

My mentor, whom I asked to help me, referred me to a counselor. The first big lesson I received from my counselor is that, in order to be healthy, I have to deal with life on life's terms. In other words, I've got to join the rest of the world in reality.

To do this, I began taking a sober look into my own heart. I had to address the heart issues, burdens, and trauma that I had left unattended for so many years.

Eventually, this led me to pull out what I thought was my calling to youth ministry and reexamine it. 

I'm still not sure if I'm done with youth ministry. But, now I know a few more things about myself. First, all of the men who have had giant impacts on my life have been in youth ministry. Because of this, naturally, I want to emulate them. Second, I can sometimes get stuck in a pattern. "Just because I've always done this, I have to keep doing it." And, third, for far too long, I had let my self will run rampant and control my life.

So, in early 2014, I began to pray something different. For so long, I had been praying that God would give me specific job opportunities. Then, I began praying for any opportunity. Now, I had come to the place in my life where I was genuinely happy with myself. So, I began praying for God to just give me more of Him. With more of Him, even if I poured coffee or swept floors for the rest of my life, I realized I'd be fulfilled and satisfied (not just happy).

In late 2014, I began running an experiment. (This has become a mechanism that I employ when I know I need to make a big life change. I'll unpack it later.) I began to say "What if, just for a little while, I disassociated my identity from my vocation? What if I didn't hold myself to what I think I have to do? What if I didn't hold myself to what I think I should do or what I ought to do? What if I just tried to figure out what I want to do? Just for a little while."

By redefining the rules by which I thought I had to think, I freed myself up enough to see something new. I saw that I enjoyed being with people one on one more than being with them in large groups. I saw that, the story that I have (and the work I had done to understand and begin to improve it) allowed me to empathize and guide others toward a better path. And I saw that, by sharing my story and listening to those of others, I got to enjoy intimacy with them. And I liked that. In fact, I didn't just like it, I was energized by it. 

Mile three.

So, I asked my counselor, "If I'm interested in pursuing counseling as a career, how would I go about doing it?" 

And, here I am.

I wanted to write this because I know that some of you reading it are experiencing something similar. Your thinking has become settled and you've accepted a set of "rules" by which to live by and think by. But... What if? 

So, just for a little while, what if you didn't play by those rules anymore? What if you, with God's help and influence, asked yourself "What do I want to do?"

1 comment:

Bentoth7576 said...

Dude!!! thats awesome!!!! bro id love to hear about what brought you to this move.