I can't believe, and then I can believe, that I've not posted a blog post since the summer of 2020.
The truth is, I didn't want to write. I went through a bad summer and fall dealing with how to live life and pastor churches during a Covid-19 pandemic, something that I hadn't been trained for, and had no experience doing. Throw in a little anxiety (well maybe a lot of anxiety), and not taking any kind of break, I finally got to the point where the "tank was empty." I came to finally learn what utter exhaustion, both mentally and physically, feels like.
I never want to experience those feelings again. It was awful. Just awful.
My two churches told me to take off the entire month of December 2020. Doing so was initially a challenge, but then we went RVing for two weeks. I came back refreshed, and excited again about being a pastor. Most importantly, my mind was clear of a lot of "stinking thinking," like Covid-19 was my fault and that I had to "fix" it all by myself.
While away, I got to spend a lot of time rethinking what I have often preached, since I first learned the concept 16 years ago . . . that we only control two things in life: we can react emotionally to life and live to regret it (been there, done that, don't want the t-shirt), or we can respond to life out of our faith and our Christian core values. That's what I got to do starting this past December. I chose to start responding more, and in the time since, things have gotten much better, mostly because my mind is more clear and my body is rested as a result.
As Covid-19 cases dramatically decrease in our county and local area, we have "opened up" more at both churches, and are systematically and safely returning some missed programs and ministries. It feels good to preach again, and getting ready to preach excites me as it used to.
Perhaps the most dramatic change has come in terms of my personal spiritual health and growth. I lead a short morning watch and devotional time on Facebook Live (Comanche First United Methodist Church) around the 9AM hour on Mondays through Fridays. I enjoy the online engagement with those who usually participate with us. I also "rediscovered" the Moravian Daily Text (www.moriavian.org/dailytexts). If you use the Moravian Daily Text, you will read through the Bible in two years. No commentary, just 3-4 scriptures and several other scriptures for thought. Using the MDT is helping shape me to not depend so much on commentary's anymore, instead reading scripture and letting it speak to my heart, soul and life.
If this is what the other side looks like, after what I last wrote, then I'm ok with it. Life is tough, and I believe that many dramatic changes are still to come in our culture, society, country and church. The big difference on this side . . . is the anxiety, worry and frustration are much less. New opportunities are presenting themselves on a daily basis. That can be a good thing.
God's amazing grace is once again amazing me!