I have wandered around with my teeth grit and my fists clenched for about as long as I can remember. There is no peace for the man who believes the weight of the world has been thrust upon his shoulders. After all, it will soon become obvious that he can't even handle his own crap much less the globe's.
I suffered when I lost the girlfriend I had before Yaniz. I became painfully aware of how horrible I could be. Then I changed. Or at least tried to change. I don't consider myself a martyr, and I'm definitely not a saint. I'm just a person who realized it was time to shift course. Perhaps only by a few degrees, but over time, even a subtle shift will get you closer to base.
Life will be easier after theology school. That's what I told myself back in 2013 when I gave up on being the Next Big Speaker Who Didn't Go To University and announced to my parents that I needed to be at Southern Adventist University in three days. Of course, what I didn't realize back then was that when my brain thought "easier," what it really meant was "have control of my world."
Sometimes when I'm driving home after work, I pull into the parking lot of the apartments where my wife and I live, and I just sit there. Thinking. Avoiding having to walk the dogs. I wonder if perhaps it's time to end my desire for world domination (for Christ). At times I fill in the silence with a podcast or a rap song. At other times, I just sit there and cry in silence.
What if I never become Adventist famous? And why does this even matter to me?
Perhaps defining "life will be easier" as "nothing will ever happen without my say" is not conducive to peace. This notion is particularly to let go of, but raising puppies, and realizing that in-house accidents are inevitable has been particularly enlightening. I spend quite a bit of time Google Searching what the best carpet cleaners. I have my wife to thank for these experiences. She's a dog-lover. I am not. But she claims this is all helping me prepare for parenting children. I disagree; I don't believe an animal could ever evoke anything close to the emotions that a creation between my wife and I will. I just think dog people come up with all sorts of delusions to justify all they do.
Other times when I am sitting on the couch watching way more Netflix than a man of God should, I panic about my life. What if I never become an employed pastor? What if I never get to teach? What if I never get to be part of a church plant? What if I never get to write a book about the crazy-but-ultimately-wonderful-experiences-God-gave-me? What if I fail? Or worse yet, what if I succeed in the non-ministry world? What will I do then?
They say men have a nothing box, but I think God skipped giving me mine when I was going down the genetic assembly line.
All I know right now is that every day I feel like giving up ends up becoming the day when something needed breaks my way. Perhaps it's an encouraging phone call from a friend just as confused at seminary or a slight pay raise to help pay bills. There have even been these beautiful ministry moments in nontraditional settings. When your life "feels" so secular, so mundane—the sacred burning bushes are as if the Divine kisses you.
"You don't need a title to do ministry."
Yeah, I agree that there is dignity in minding the sheep when no one is watching, but receiving God's blessing in front of the squad doesn't hurt.
I can't explain why my heart burns with the desire to speak and teach about the LORD. I believe life would be easier without this sensation. I am jealous of those around me who preserve their faith without being burdened to publicly disciple. In one of my favorite passages in scripture, the ancient seer Jeremiah complains to God: I didn't ask for this! You [God] seduced me, and I gave in.
I don't feel sorry for myself. Neither should you. It's not a big mystery why my senior year interviews didn't translate into a ministry job. My resume is confusing to those who run the church. I am a magnet for controversy, and I was emotionally unstable for the bulk of my time in college. Even the most supportive of my professors would tell me to my face that I could probably only survive the first few years of professional ministry if I landed in the right environment. Otherwise, I would be a headache to my employers and they would be the bane of my existence. I helped create a lot of what has caused my season of unemployment, including choosing to marry my beloved wife who is still currently studying at Southern Adventist University..
Agency invokes responsibility. When you know you chose, you can no longer claim victimhood which is what the disease of regret will try to get you to do. I am content with my choices, including accepting the call to ministry which is what is creating a tremendous amount of tension in my life.
I am not ashamed to have given in to the Lord.
I will admit that it leaves me in a strange place as I watch my colleagues' ministerial careers take off while I draft tweets for a snack cake company. But Jesus yelled at Peter when he asked Him to explain the lives of one of his fellow disciples. I figure I'll get yelled at too if I make such requests. So where does that leave me?
Like I said, I am neither a martyr nor a saint, just a young adult in his mid-20s trying to responsibly and calmly walk the valleys and fields my Shepherd is taking me through. It's not easy, you know, accepting I am sheep and not king. But I hear this Shepherd can handle the weight of the world. And for now, that alone is peace.