...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Spirituality of Shattered Dreams

The pain of disillusionment is equal to the level of false expectations we allow. If the spiritual life was presented as a one-size-fits-all formula for success, then, everything that requires effort and presents a challenge could be an occasion to throw in the towel. Whether we are talking about marriage, church membership, or Christian discipleship, pain is relative to the extent that our expectations are connected to reality.

Hebrews 11 helps us to see the Old Testament story through the colors of death and resurrection, not in terms of promise and fulfillment. That's because God's promises can always be twisted to address whatever I want. Taken together, Moses, who didn't enter the land (see Deut. 34), and David, who didn't build the Temple (2 Sam. 7:1-7), and Jesus, who wasn't delivered from his fate (Luke 22: 39 ff.) represent a strong biblical theme missing in the shallow faith of name it and claim it churchianity. It is the forgotten message God offering resurrection in the ashes of our dreams, our disillusionment.

When I entered full time ministry twenty five years ago, I had hoped that my prior student pastorates "would count" in future appointments. That somehow, I could skip the "Plum Run" or "Turkey Switch" churches because I had already pastored an isolated, isolating rural parish.
I quickly learned that the system doesn't look at such considerations. Instead it needs folks who will take what is offered the first time, or perhaps suffer the consequences later. Or folks who make a decision fairly early on what their ministry is going to be about. That is intentionality.

You can't change the system but you can define and re-define yourself with the gifts God has given you. There is a great need in the church for truth telling instead of false build-ups, whether it's a church appointment or the Christian way of life being sold. Do ya think we could save some pain, do less harm, if we just told folks the truth about suffering the death of our dreams, and through those tears, seeing the resurrected One? The One who alone offers new life beyond our wants and wishes?

1 comment:

  1. "...the resurrected One... who alone offers new life beyond our wants and wishes."

    If by "our" you refer to people who believe that only belief in the resurrection offers life beyond self, then this would be true as far as such individuals know.

    If by "our" you mean people generally, this isn't the case. Consider, for example, Buddhism's Eightfold Path.


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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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