LEARNING TO BE LOVE, THAT’S ALL. WordPress offers a writing prompt today, “Write a six-word story about what you think the future holds for you, and then expand on it in a post.” So that’s my story, that’s what my future is, or what I would like it to be. If I don’t get off-track or distracted, that’s the direction I’ll be headed in.

Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.” I buy that, although I think that movement is overrated. The important thing is which direction we are facing, what are we looking at, pondering, absorbing?

What are you pondering?

What are you pondering?

I also think that pondering the present moment is way more important than pondering the future, which is why it’s such a crying shame that many people who think they are following Jesus are obsessed with figuring out who gets to be in Heaven when this whole show on earth is over, instead of focusing on what God might be doing to bring hope and health and wholeness right here, right now.

But I digress.

My life is not what I thought it would be at this point. When I was growing up, most people – myself included – imagined they would get married and have kids and be happy, unless of course you were gay, in which case you might get married and have kids and be utterly miserable and make your poor heterosexual spouse miserable, too. But I’m not gay, so I was going to get married and have a girl named Annaliese (and Dorothy if I had a second girl) and a boy would be named Griffin, to keep the family name going.

Then I decided I wanted to be an environmental lobbyist and talk sense into policy makers and save the planet, so I did that for twenty-seven years instead of having kids, and then I got tired of smashing my head against that wall, and through no decision of my own ended up being a family caregiver for about ten years, through dementia and mental illness and death. Twice.

Meanwhile, I got my Masters Degree in creative writing, and I’m so, so glad that I did, although I’ve quickly tired of smashing my head against the publication wall, sending out my writing only to be rejected again and again, so I don’t send it out much anymore and of course it doesn’t get published.

Then all of a sudden my church asked me to be a pastor, and here I am. As pastor of Prayer & Healing, I spend a lot of time with people who are in pain. I am learning – slowly – that I can’t save them. I am also learning that most people are in some amount of pain, they just don’t talk about it the way folks do during a crisis. Often, people aren’t even aware of their pain, they are only aware that they work too much, or drink too much, or eat too much, or surf the internet too much, or fill-in-the-blank too much.

To “succeed” in my new role, I began frantically reading about pastoral counseling and spiritual companionship and “grief work” and emergent theology, but am coming to realize that really, I already have what I need. I’ve been through a lot of pain and loss and addiction in my life, and I get it. I know how to be with people in those spaces (whether or not those people know they are occupying those spaces), and as long as I focus on putting my roots deep into God, who is entirely and purely love, I am who I am supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

Being

Me, Being

I need to be healthy enough and grounded in the God of Love (not the judgmental, vengeful God of Christian broadcasting) so that I come from a place of abundance, not neediness, and then I am good to go.

I might write a book. I might become a teacher. I might work for another non-profit. Heck, I might get married. Who knows? But I do know the bottom line, and that’s what matters. Learning to be love, that’s all.

The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter

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