2011 was a year of drastic change for me. Some family members and friends were also caught in the fall out, some by choice, others by proximity. I tried to gather my thoughts when I wrote “Ten things I didn’t expect in 2011” for catapult a year ago.
Part of the uniqueness of my transition was moving away from “full-time ministry.” For over thirty years, some ministry paid me. Camp, church and campus setting were all part of my career path. Ministries have full, specific calendars. The lines between work and personal are often blurred, at times disappearing. Now I look back on a full year in this new place. All significant dates and events have been passed at least once.
So, here are some of my thoughts after a full year on this side of my most recent life upheaval.
Like most life shifts for most people, I have survived, adapted and changed. With regard to relationships, commitments, beliefs and activities I have let go of some, held tight to a few and allowed others to morph. While change would have happened whether or not I stayed in my former setting, the transition seemed to accelerate and intensify the process.
After the rough ride of 2011 this has been a somewhat calm year for us. No major tragedies or illness, we did not relocate, no cars or appliances have broken down — small graces that have helped ease the transition pressures.
I find it strangely satisfying living in the land of the self-employed. The reality is that I make less money. I have had times of being overwhelmed by multiple demands and other days of wondering when the next thing will materialize. My new work is an intricate jigsaw of schedules, roles, locations and people. There is the continuing near-terror of being first day, new person on the new job in a cyclical Ground Hog Day, dream-like fashion. In many ways it would be easier to have a “real” job with a regular check, responsibilities and benefits. If the “perfect” job appeared I might take it, but I think I’d be slow to immerse myself into a “system” again.
I’ve heard it’s good to keep learning new skills. Others say it’s good for us to try things we don’t want to do or things we think we won’t like — something about keeping my synapses firing. Earlier this year I signed up to become a basketball referee. It must be really good for me because it’s hard and I don’t like it.
Old work schedules have given way to new rituals. My former role involved an erratic schedule that often left me tired and disinterested in further social activity or interaction. My new schedule is less predictable but less socially demanding. I’ve been able to make a new group of friends for a weekly Trivia Night at a local pub. Another small grace.
Relationships continue to be reshaped. So many that were the focus of my time are now on the fringes. I am not aware of replacing relationships one for one. I am relating to fewer people than my former role dictated. I’ve made a few new friends here and there along the way, solidified some long-term connections and found new levels of connection with others.
I attended my 40th high school reunion. As much as anything I thought I’d have a nagging sense of regret if I didn’t go. I went, enjoyed it and now don’t have to deal with wondering about it. While it did not drastically change my life or relationships, I’m enjoying staying connected with a few classmates through social media.
I survived another election. Some celebrated, while others thought it was the end of the world. Seems to me that elections come on schedule and life generally goes on.
No longer being the leader in a specific ministry setting has allowed me to be free from the responsibility or pressures associated with representing certain doctrines, practices or organizations. It seems clear: the simple call is to follow Jesus. It also seems clear that too few can agree on what that looks like.
Grace, redemption and forgiveness are great gifts. I’m thankful for all who have extended such kindness my way. I understand I have room for growth and much to learn in both receiving and giving these in simple bits of faith. Forgiveness is an especially tough one to master, but I keep finding opportunities to work at it.
Going into the New Year I hope that we don’t all fall off the fiscal cliff; that war and violence would end (or at least be diminished); that culture wars won’t devour the energy we could focus on actual change and movement toward “the common grace for the Common good”; that my family and friends will be well and enjoy life together; that I am able to continue helping others through my work while picking up a few new clients and projects that will result in some added income; that the Seahawks go deep into the playoffs; that the Mariners won’t be quite as awful as they were last year…okay, for the last decade. Other than that, I all I ask is that: