Skip to main content

This Morning

June 24, 2018. I went to bed earlier than usual last night, knowing that I needed a good night’s sleep before standing up to speak this morning. But good intentions aside, it’s 4:45am and here I am sitting at our dining room table, trying to give free reign to some of the thoughts swirling around in my head in hopes that their release will allow me to get back to sleep again, if only for another hour or so.

I followed through on our Board’s request that I share my heart for our church and try to wrap up this season of uncertainty before the summer kicks in. The past couple of weeks have been almost exclusively dedicated to thinking and praying through how I can put my thoughts into words, searching for a way to inspire as many people as possible to commit to this next leg of our journey. This morning, I’m definitely feeling the heaviness of it all—feeling it deep inside my chest. 

(Note: This post is part of an ongoing series called The View From Here. Please follow this link and start reading at the oldest post, Fear and Trembling.)

Last week, I met with a member of our Board and her husband to discuss the depths of their struggle with the direction things are heading. It was a sombre reminder that people I care deeply about will not be willing to stay in the situation I’ll be inviting people into just a few short hours from now. They reminded me that there will be others as well, perhaps some that I’m not expecting to leave. They said this in a spirit of love; it was a healthy and honest conversation, and it was helpful for me as I continued to craft my sermon throughout the week, trying to find a way to speak to everyone in our community in a way that would honour their diverse struggles with this hotly contested issue.

I know there are a number of people in our community who have been holding their breath on this, hoping against hope that I will ‘see the light’ and snap out of whatever it is they think I need to snap out of. Maybe I need to snap out of my blindness to the injustice of excluding same-sex attracted people, or maybe it’s my blindness to the danger of stepping outside of the bounds of orthodoxy. Whatever it is, I know that people can only hold their breath for so long, and so this morning will be the time when some of them will finally breathe again. I just don’t know what’s going to happen when the air actually fills up their lungs.

Yes, this morning will mark the end of the road for some members of our community. This is just heartbreaking for me to admit and the heaviness is something I can feel almost physically as I sit here typing in the early morning darkness. Will I be able to stand up there this morning with the same confidence I had when I read my sermon over on Friday morning? Will I find a way to speak from a place of genuine vulnerability and with the kind of integrity my congregation needs and deserves from me? 

Last week, I was driving with my son to one of his baseball games and he asked me, “Dad, why are you so quiet today?” 

How do you answer that question? How do you explain to a thirteen-year-old that you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders because you are about to cause so much pain for people, and that you’re filled with so much self-doubt that it takes everything in you to put on a happy face and move around in the world? What words could I have used to express the significance of this moment for me, to articulate how aware I am that everything changes on the other side of this decision? How do I tell my child that I am equally confident and doubtful about what I’m doing, and even about who I am? Does that even make sense to a thirteen-year-old? Does it even make sense to me?

I’ve always said that I try my very best to live life without regrets. I don’t mean in a thrill-seeking, throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of way, but in a way where I give myself permission to make mistakes. Even though I’m only forty-one, I’ve lived long enough already to know that it doesn’t matter how clearly you see something in a given moment, because it’s time that is the ultimate judge of our actions. But living with a fear of making mistakes is no way to live, so I’ve always tried to extend grace to myself when reflecting back at my missteps. Even heading into this morning’s sermon and the direction that I’ll steer our community in, I’m well aware that one day I will look back on this and will find a way to forgive myself for whatever mistakes I’m making. I can do this because I know that it’s the same thing that God offers me on the other side of every mistake I make—grace, mercy, and forgiveness in response to every one of a thousand different ways that I miss the mark in my walk of faith. 

Right now, I feel like God is offering me understanding, empathy, and presence. We’re in this together, after all, God and I; God and all of us. Maybe that reminder will be enough to get me back to sleep for a little while...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Fear and Trembling

I first registered an account with Blogger back in 2011 when someone suggested I start a blog after visiting our church one Sunday morning. The fact that nine years have passed by with nothing to show for it speaks pretty clearly as to how comfortable I am with the idea as a whole.

So why now?

In 2018, the church where I serve as pastor went through an incredibly trying season. When a leader and beloved member of our congregation told me he was gay and that he was preparing to ‘come out’ publicly, I desperately wanted to know how other pastors had responded to a challenge like this without destroying their church in the process.

I grasped for anything that could help me get through what I knew would be a daunting leadership experience with significant implications for our church’s future. While I was able to find a number of books written from different sides of this hot-button issue, the primary commentaries seemed to come from those who were not actually leading local congregations.…

An Early Morning Start

It's 4:45 in the morning on December 8, 2017. Truthfully, it has only been a few hours since I first had the idea that I should start writing down my thoughts, so it’s not as if I've been wrestling with the idea for months, weeks, or even days. But the idea came late at night, and as most late-night ideas do, it refused to be tucked away by something as insignificant as a good night’s sleep. The idea to write came on the tail end of a meeting with our church board at which I informed them that a member and leader in our congregation had let me know that he is gay and that he was “coming out.”

In the words of one of our team members, “This is going to be an absolute hailstorm of disaster.”

Well, I thought to myself, if no one else has written a manual on how to do this, maybe I should get started on one.

(Note: This post is part of an ongoing series called The View From Here. Please follow this link and start reading at the oldest post, Fear and Trembling.)

An early morning start…

First Encounters

I entered high school in the early ‘90s, at a time when gay rights was gathering momentum. I’m not sure how prominent talk about gay rights actually was, but I know that I got tired of hearing about it pretty quickly.

The phrase “gay and proud” was making its rounds, and I remember wondering why on earth people were talking about this so much. I had only heard about one gay person in our high school and I was pretty sure I would have known if there were others. Bullying is frowned upon much more strongly today than it was back then, and while it’s shameful to admit, during those early high school years, I often played the role of the perpetrator.

(Note: This post is part of an ongoing series called The View From Here. Please follow this link and start reading at the oldest post, Fear and Trembling.)

All of the “gay and proud” talk was getting to me, so I decided I would take a stand of my own. Always willing to go the extra mile for a little attention, I went home one day, found a whit…