This week a surprising observation was made of me. I mean I was humbled that it had even been made!
I was intrigued by the observation of a young man who happens to have come to lead my particular faith community as a pastor only a year ago. I am one of about three hundred people he will have had to learn something about during that time. What touched me was that he might only ever have known me at face value as a single divorcee with a currently low profile commitment and engagement in the church. Yet he had taken the trouble to realise that I had a very different history and passion and had presumably noticed an intentional effort on my part to re-create and re-align my life purposefully and meaningfully after passage through personal trauma.
And I am in transition – I have been for at least six years! I suppose six years out of a potential hundred is a fair segment but in reality I think I welcome the thought of change and emergence to be the stuff of my life on an ongoing basis! I wrote recently about the de-cluttering I undertook at home, and the lessons of letting go, hard as they may seem. New space in a corner of one’s home or one’s mentality and outlook is actually a welcome contrast and benefit. Yes, even appreciated for the openings it offers and the light it allows into previously blocked pathways of thought or direction. Occasionally one might experience a sense of regret that a missing item has been given away or discarded, but the many compensations could never have been anticipated. Some are necessary and obvious such as the rremuneration. However, if I had never stepped up to a huge challenge of designing and delivering some NHS leadership training to senior professionals over the last nine months I would never have heard of, let alone tasted the incredible liquorice cake served up for us one day at our hotel venue!! The risk is worthwhile!
I even asked for it again this week!
So what was it I was struggling to tell my pastor?
Despite conducting a recent community project effectively and to its initial conclusion, I somehow felt burdened and inappropriate for the next stage of its development. I myself have been on the receiving end of such withdrawals of volunteer willingness and used to find it disappointing and eventually debilitating. I was feeling guilty and inadequate about owning my preferences and acknowledging my desire to build on the enjoyable and natural aspects of my gifts. It was very clumsy and awkward for me even to have this conversation where previously I would have loyally carried the baton and simply served the general need.
Of course there will always be an element in community life of needing to be versatile and compliant. But to date I have always been too compliant. I tell this story because for me it is a little victory I am chalking up in living the values I have defined and refined and the process of becoming authentic which I embrace and endorse! In order to disentangle our genius we will have to have some of these difficult conversations. In doing so, our genius gets to breathe again and someone else’s genius can be applied where ours was not flourishing.
So I spent the day today doing what I love, writing. Yesterday I was encouraging ward leaders to share with one another what they love about their work and two days before that, facilitating special group of people toward defining their the first raw version of a dream for life.
Now that is worth a little bit of embarrassment in the short term!