I rarely know a season I am in until I am past it. I wish I was more introspective, but my attention is often pulled to shiny things, fire, and what is loudest. My life for the past 6 years would indicate that I need to look back or inside more. As I began to think about life through the numbers, it reveals that I was moving at a pace that needed to change, and gratefully it is:
- My wife has been some form of pregnant or nursing for the past 6 years.
- We have three children that are 5, 3 and 1. One of which has some special needs (see earlier post).
- I have been in seminary for a total of 9 years, and will be finishing my Masters degree in August of this year. The classes were enriching, however, in moving three times to two different cities and adding children drug the process out significantly longer than I intended.
- We moved from the Sacramento area 6 years ago, into our first purchased home. We moved 4 years later, and have been in our newest home for the last two.
- I came on staff at a church where I was the 6th person to be hired. We are now a staff of over 60 people. Our church had a weekly attendance of 500 people and two services on one campus. We are now a church of over 4000 people with nine services, three local and one regional campus, and one tentatively on the way.
- I began as the one paid youth staff with 10 students and 4 volunteer staff, we are now four paid staff with over 60 volunteer staff and 150-200 middle school and high school students. I am the director of the High School Ministry.
- I will be celebrating my 10 year wedding anniversary on April 7th of this year.
In addition, we have been a part of dear friends experiencing death, divorce, loss, and pain I wouldn’t wish upon those I hate.
This is a brief snapshot of my life, and the crazy thing is that if you were to ask anyone on staff at The Well and those we do life with, they have had a similar experience. Life has been a bit out of control. Each of those bullet points represent joy and blessings. I wanted children, a fantastic marriage, a Master’s Degree, and the occupation I have. In addition, I am a different person than 6 years ago. I have grown and been shaped by my life. My issue is that all of these good things, collectively, took the joy out of the individual experiences.
It’s as if I just got used to working at that speed. I didn’t notice that the overall quality of my life was relatively poor. No one would actively seek out lack of sleep, unhealthy levels of caffeine, and a short fuse to all that are around them, but that is exactly who I had become and what I was doing. I don’t tend to watch the show “The Biggest Loser”, but my favorite episode happens at the end of the season. They make the people who lost all that weight, do a challenge carrying weight equivalent to their starting weight. No one in their right mind would toss an additional 80 pounds on their back and expect to be just as fast and light-footed. What each contestant says is that they can’t believe that they ever lived like that, and they pray they will never become like that again.
(Prov. 6:9-11 ESV) How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.
The degeneration happens so slowly that you aren’t on guard at all. Isn’t that typical in all downward spirals? “It” starts out innocently enough, heading in a direction that was never intended. The “it” is arbitrary. It could be physical destruction, or a drug, or a habit, or debt, or a woman. Gradually, over time, the pace and the compromise quickens. There is more bargaining and change that would have never happened before, but you are in it, whatever it is, and it is tough to turn around. Then that same “it” becomes less about not doing it anymore, and now you are only doing it long enough to get yourself out of whatever mess you got yourself into. Eventually it becomes a matter of damage control. Not really trying to become the best version of yourself, rather, it is you working hard to not allow others to see the worst version that you are living right now.
It always ends the same. You hit the bottom. You come to a point in your life that you really can’t stand to look at the version of yourself that you have become. The climb up and out is usually longer and harder than the fall, as is the case for any mountain you tumble down. What I do know is that the higher the mountain I climb, the more grateful I am that I took the time to climb it. I have the pain and blisters to show for it, but the joy of the climb far outweighs the suffering on the road I was on. It is just so hard to see that as you start the journey at the base of the mountain.
I don’t want to give up anymore. I have before. It makes the climb out the next time all the more difficult. Because now I am carrying the failure from the last time as well as everything I did to earn being on the bottom of the mountain.
So I climb, one foot in front of the other. The view is getting better and the fog is lifting. What you are reading is part of the process. If I am honest, the reflection is less about who reads it, and simply that I am doing it. Step, step, step….