Thinking about my theme this week, I was sitting in my office and pondering what I want do focus on for 2018. As I ponder, the tv in the main room is playing a song from the movie Trolls. I can hear the bubbly optimistic voice singing "if you knock-knock me over, I will get back up again". Sure, I need to be more positive and focus on being optimistic, but I am reminded by the words of Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi. He reaches out to Rey and invites her to let the past die. He says, "let the past die, kill it if you have too". He wants to let it all die, the Jedi, the Sith, the way things used to be and find out who he is supposed to be. I'm not going into a long diatribe about the movie, I just want to focus on this idea.
Spoiler Warning: Kylo killed his father, Han. He wants to kill Luke. He kills Snoke. He should have killed Huss, he does smack him around a little. He is now in charge, no more mask, no more wanting to be Vader. He lets go of the ambitions to be as great as his grandfather and he wants to be who he is supposed to be. Pretty noble. . . .for a dark lord of the sith. Ok, maybe it's not noble, maybe it's selfish and arrogant, but the reality is, he had this path he thought he had to walk, these shoes he thought he had to fill, this person he was supposed to be. He was pushed and pulled and if he didn't measure up he was berated, so he killed the past. He did it pretty literally.
Now I have been working through some hurt in my life for the last 5 or so years. I have struggled a lot because I had this idea of who I was going to be and who I was becoming. Then it was gone, I was told I didn't have what it takes to be who I wanted to be and I couldn't stay in my position anymore because I wasn't good enough. I was broken, so I left broken and attempted to pick up the pieces, but the more I gathered, the more I dropped. I had this idea of who I needed to become, but those I use to call partners and friends were now mocking me from a distance. I was called immature, a mistake, that I was unwise and financially irresponsible. The more that was said the more got back to me, and if I responded, those individuals would go on the defensive and accuse me of gossip and slander. I limped away to start over someplace else. I tried to get going in a new place with a new goal and aim, but it never worked out. My schedule didn't allow me, so I made a change but ended up injured and needed back surgery. I offered, I reached out, but I was shut down. The door was closed. I wasn't good enough, I didn't measure up, I didn't fit the bill, my failure was too great.
The past 5 years have been a series of failures in the path I thought was set before me. I started this journey at 15, and the road just stopped. I can't make any progress. Instead, I just sat down and looked at the past, the road that brought me here that was filled with pain and hurt and disappointment. I'm angry and hurt and feel rejected and scorned. I know I'm never going to get an apology or be restored and resolution won't come. The thorn is there, and God isn't going to remove it. I have to remember that grace is sufficient, even though I don't understand or like it. I can't fix it and I can't fix the past. The past is gone, it's over and I need to let it die. Maybe I need to kill it. How? By getting off that road.
I'm not saying I'm done with the road I was on for most of my adult life. Yes, the road I was on was ministry, vocationally or even volunteer. I talked with a church here in town that was looking for a pastor who feels like they are called in a specific direction, which isn't in my direction and I found I am ok with that. They are a good church but I'm not sure my particular style is the right fit, since I am much more traditional and a Sunday School guy. I'm finding my particular style doesn't fit many places lately, since I'm a traditional Arthur Flake, Southern Baptist, Lifeway Sunday School guy, and every time a church tosses Sunday School aside for some other model, it makes my head want to explode. Maybe someday a church will call me and say "we want a traditional Sunday School guy to come help us out", but for right now, that's not my path.
I have to embrace my reality. I'm not moving away from Sioux City. When we came here in 2008, it was to stay until 2025 (my youngest will out of High School at that point). We just bought a house, we aren't leaving. I'm not going to pack up my kids and move them to find a church job, and there are no church jobs in Sioux City that fit me. I've even offered to do them for free, but it didn't work. The door was shut, and I suppose when you boil it down, God shut them. Maybe it's not the right time, maybe I am just a bad person and God doesn't want me screwing up His church. Opinions vary, I have been told that I don't understand pastoring and I need to get out of church ministry and pursue a career in academics.
I will pursue a career in academics. I've already started classwork, I'm back in school, learning new things. I have a job working in the world, which is sorta educationally focused. I'm learning, going to a training, looking at conferences, I'm going to resume writing more. I'm not leaving my faith, although it suffered a great deal when church after church seemed to shut the door on me. I won't throw my Seminary degree, license or ordination in the trash. I'm not going to quit church, although, in all honesty, I have considered it. I won't become a bitter individual who wants to destroy those who hurt me, but the call to the dark side is real. The temptation to lash out in anger is real, so I need to let the past die.
Kill it if necessary. This means for me that I need to take those feelings and thoughts captive, reject them and let them die. My anger and bitterness, it's not going away easy. I've tried for the better part of 5 years to get them to leave. I still have nightmares and dreams about my past, but it must die. I'm not emotionally healthy, I haven't been in a long time. My failures have come as result of my emotional state. I need to let the past die. I need to get back up again. My focus needs to be on the future, where I am going and what I'm doing. Find a new road and stop looking forlorn at the deal end. That road is over, it's over. It's over. I'm not over and it's time for me to get going, down a new road.
Dan Barnes is passionate about helping people connect with a ministry that really brings them closer to God, and do it successfully. You can follow him at http://jdanbarnes.blogspot.com/