I was looking at “my rock” recently and reflecting on the view that has been developing since my time spent there. For those of you who haven’t been along since the beginning of the journey, allow me to bring you up to speed. In August of 2004 I spent a very deconstructive and reconstructive week in the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming. It was an organized time of reflecting, mentoring, and listening. It was the listening that I think was the most difficult for me. Specifically it was time spent on this particular rock in question. It’s actually the rock pictured on this blog. I spent about 4 hours very much alone in the wilderness of the Medicine Bow mountain range at 11,000 feet, just my rock, my self, and my creator. I’m not sure that I realized at that moment that it was anything more than 4 hours of excruciating silence lying on my rock, not unlike a flank steak on a griddle in the eyes of the local bear population.
Anyway, that is where all of this began in a very profound and humbling way. I know that I’m not alone in this experience. You may not have a rock, but you may have or will have a moment in life where you have to search deeply to answer the age old, “What have I become, and What’s my purpose anyway?” type of questions. For me it wasn’t a crisis of identity, or a midlife crisis, or anything like that. I had already taken that hill and moved on. I was already convinced that my creator had me where he wanted me to be, but I wasn’t really sure that He had me “how” he wanted me to be. It’s kind of like this; You get to a point in the race and you’re running with your head down for all your worth and all of a sudden you look around and realize that your running alone and you’re not really sure where. Somewhere along the course, the signs were switched and you are running a course that you never intended and it’s probably not going where you thought it would go. So you’ve been running, with purpose and passion and all the energy that you can offer, and when you stop nothing is familiar anymore. Anyway, it seems kind of deep, but not really. Most people will go through this to some extent in their life time and its not necessarily an indication of a need for “some time away”. It just means that maybe we missed an onramp and need to proceed to the next one.
I have this line of a song in my head this morning “starting today I’m someone, I’d be proud to know”. It’s from the group VanZant, from the “Freebird”, lighter waving, VanZants of Lynyrd Skynyrd days gone by. This and the revisiting of my rock have me looking in the mirror again. It’s the same concept that I had to come to terms with 3 years ago. Am I becoming someone that I’d be proud to know. Am I a husband that I’d be proud to know? Am I a dad that I’d be proud to know? Am I a leader that I’d be proud to know? I was and still am doing fairly well with these things, and I’m told that more than I care to or need to know. My realization lately though is that I do well according to standards and comparisons that have been created by a lowest common denominator culture. I do very well there, being graded on a curve.
My rock experience has led me to realize though that once again I’ve been running with my head down. There’s a higher standard that I’m needing to hold myself to and as a result there is a higher standard that I need to lead those in my community o’ faith to.
I often wonder what in the world is the point to my pastoral arts calling. I mean really, do people really need my influence to love and serve people? Am I just a talking head, or an administrator, or someone to perform weddings and funerals? What is my role? Is this faith community really what Jesus envisioned when He entrusted His worldly influence to “the Church”? Is it really about the ABC’s …attendance, buildings, and cash? Is it deeper or is it not that deep? Those are the voices in my head.
Before anyone who knows me and can physically reach me begins to size me up for a big butterfly net, here is my conclusion as of 8:29am on Monday May 7th @ Tullys on the beach; It’s not so complex. Notice I said it’s not so complex. I didn’t say that it’s not difficult. It just isn’t very complicated. As a member of a community o’ faith, it’s not that complicated. I need to love people. That’s it. Not only that though, I need to find out just what it is that will demonstrate the fact that I love them. As a leader of a community o’ faith, I need to encourage and model loving and serving people. That’s it. Some people will get it and some people won’t. I pray that those who get it far outnumber those who don’t. Those who don’t get it, but wear the T-shirts anyway, give those of us who get it a bad name, and worse yet they give Jesus and His church a bad name. I apologize for when I screw up and I apologize for those others who screw up, but my job description is my own and that is enough to be responsible for. As a husband I need to love my wife, and not just in the snuggling up to see what I can get kind of way. I’m supposed to love her by sacrificing and providing a sense of security. As a dad I need to love my kids. I need to give them time, I need to reserve energy, physical and emotional. I need to offer direction and then consolation when direction is ignored. Looking back over this revelation, it seems very simplistic to say, but I can’t help realize that I simply need to be like Jesus. I need to put my head up every once in awhile. I need to make sure that I’m in the right race. I need to change the signs for those who have missed the turns. I need to rise above the curve.
We have all experienced rocks in life. For some of us, they represent challenges and obstacles to formidable to deal with. They divert our paths or frustrate our efforts and sometimes they cause us to just sit down and give up. For some, rocks are for climbing on. We have discovered that it greatly improves the view.