Getting Smacked in the Face, Again
Have you ever had one of those moments on the journey when a hole just seems to jump up and bite you? You know, you’re just tripping along minding your own business and out of nowhere you get tripped up, snared, knocked over… The thing that sucks about that scenario is that it comes when we least expect it. Typically it comes, also, when we need it most. I write this posting at an Annual Conference Plenary. Conference is nearly over, and as I reflect on my experience of this Conference in light of experiences of grace I’ve previously shared, I realize that I’ve been smacked in the face. I found myself tripping over my own ego.
I suppose that this should be considered a confessional. In spite of my desire to take my ego out of my faith and my service, in this setting, I’ve allowed it to sneak back in. In a place that could offer great hope and possibility for faith, transformation, discipleship and grace, I lament the ways that I have participated in ambition, jealousy, suspicion and mistrust. Those pieces that I had hoped to be in the process of being healed from that I recognized as having no place in my life suddenly were much closer than I expected or like. OUCH!
The irony of this confession is that the Bible studies that have begun each of our Conference days have talked about the power, reality and promise of God’s Shalom in the midst of a broken and uncertain world. Even as we’ve talked about shalom and challenged toward embracing the full depth of shalom, I’ve been stung by the absence of shalom in my own heart in these few days. I’m caught in the tension of claiming renewal as the authentic shape of my ministry and seeing the need to work toward the change of systemic practice and understanding in the life of the Annual Conference. It has created a decidedly unsettled feeling in my spirit.
How do I bear witness to the power and possibility of transformation in an unwieldy and cumbersome institution whose culture is permeated by suspicion, cynicism and apathy? How do I bear witness to the need to faithfully live in kairos (God’s time) in a culture that is obsessed with rapid answers? How do I bear witness to the possibility of shalom within a culture that struggles to be gentle with self and with other? At the risk of sounding petulant, how do I bear this witness in a community in which I don’t have a voice? Perhaps it’s only that I don’t have the voice that I think I should have. Perhaps I do have a voice, but it is that I don’t think I’m being heard. In any case, I’ve got to deal with my own perceptions of being voiceless or not being heard. I’ve tripped over my ego. It is time to be led in the next step of healing.