Monday, May 28, 2018

Are you going to pastor again?

Image result for how you doin'

'How are you doing?' It's a question that I get asked a lot. My response for years was "Fantastic", it would really catch people off guard. After my Broken Halo experience, I stuck with fantastic but added some sarcasm at the back end of it. (Like, really, how do you think I'm doing?)

The truth is, like many of us going through a tough time, I am doing better. At times it has felt like I was going backward, and other times taking leaps forward. At times I have felt like I would never get through this, and days later felt like I was making major progress.

There are times people have asked me when I am getting back to ministry. The answer is usually "God knows" LOL. For many, it's like that is when they will know I am "better". When I am back to doing the things they thought I was good at. For some it is selfish, "we miss you, or we miss what you had to offer".  It is a question my wife and I wrestle with. Should I attend ministry meetings, or lead a small group, or even how much should I say while attending small group.

Capable doesn't mean called

Am I capable? Yea. If I have proven anything, it is that I can perform pretty well while at the same time being completely broken. Maybe you feel like you are coming out of a dark period. You have had your Broken Halo moment and feel near the end and you want to come out swinging. You want to show the world you may have been knocked down but you aren't knocked out. Here is my take on how to do this:

"It's a process"
I hate this term. The Cleveland Browns have been spewing this line for 20 years. It takes time, but don't rush it, blah blah blah. I am impatient and a doer. I want to see progress and benchmarks being hit. Here is the truth of it: it is indeed a process.

In 2016, a week before I turned 30, I ruptured my ACL. Completely destroying it, it was like no pain I had ever experienced. I remember pounding my hand on the ground over and over knowing full well whatever I just did to my knee was very very bad.

"I'd never be the same"
The first medical professional I saw that night told me I would never be the same. He said I would probably never play basketball at any level near what I had. I was devastated. Have you ever been there? You were either told or you did something and thought everything just changed, and not for the good. I almost cried. Are you kidding me? How does one wrong move forever change me? This can't be right.

Talk to a specialist
So the next day I went and talked to a specialist. The emergency room guy was helpful but I wanted to talk to someone that knows exactly what I am dealing with. Here is what he told me: You need surgery. It can be a long and painful recovery, but you can make a full recovery.

Hey, I don't know what you're going through, but find someone who does. Find someone who has dealt with what you are dealing with SUCCESSFULLY! When I went through my broken halo experience my wife took me to an event. I didn't believe that I would ever be the same again, or that what was broken could ever be fixed. Here, right in front of me, were two high-level leaders who had gone through almost exactly what I had and were sharing how to get better. When I got home, I contacted a pastor that also had been through a similar situation that is thriving in ministry. All three had recovered.

But could I recover?
It took me a month to have surgery on my knee. I remember waking up from it in a rage of pain. Kicking and pounding, delirious but conscious. They immediately knocked me back out and upped my pain meds. I was ordered complete bed rest for a few weeks before I did anything to recover. Sometimes you just need to pull completely out for a while. Depending on the severity of your experience, you may need to shut off completely. I remember looking at my injured leg compared to my good one. You could physically see the atrophy of the muscle. It was useless. How could I ever get this leg up to par with where I used to be. The road looked and sounded exhausting. But I wanted it!

Baby Steps. 
The exercises they told me to do were beyond basic. Bending. Yea that's it. They wanted me to bend my knee three times a day. That's it?!?! It was impossible... Something so trivial and normal for most people felt impossible. May 2018 marks the first time I have put worship music on in my car alone since I broke. It seems stupid maybe, but times I thought about putting Christian music on, I would get angry and upset. Something that was so normal for me, even when I was working toward repair, this little step seemed daunting. I was a pastor for crying out loud, how could something so basic be so difficult?

So, How am I doing?
I am doing better. I am learning a lot. When I was rebuilding my bad knee, my good knee couldn't help but get stronger. There are moments in the rebuilding process when qualities we thought where good qualities can become great ones. We become aware of our deficiencies even more so.

When will I get back into ministry?
The truth is I already am. Not exactly the type many, including myself is used to, but I am ministering to myself. Something I wasn't great at. I am taking baby steps. doing the little things. I have counseled some people even after I warned them that I am in the position to counsel anyone. When will I get back to full time pastoring? Last week I completed the paperwork to begin the process. That doesn't mean that I am ready or even close to ready. It means I want it! At the same time, I like where God has me now. I am trying to fully enjoy the present. It has hard times, but it has some good times. I will get back to fulltime pastoring when God calls me to it.