where, o death, is your victory?
i really don’t know how to talk about these things, so i’m just going to spew them out.
by almost all measures, this has been an absolutely horrible year. in january, i lost a job that i had just started to enjoy after almost six years of meaningless toil. unsurprisingly, that dismissal led to a depression the likes of which i had not experienced since ’95 or ’96. ultimately, my fear of being unemployed led me to accept a job that was not challenging and did not utilize my capabilities. and, to top it off, i lost my loser job the week of thanksgiving when my former, trite giftware company was acquired by a company that peddles even more useless tripe than we did. moreover, although i’ve always been a little relationally inept, i have never felt as relationally retarded* as i do right now. throughout this year a number of my family and friends have slogged through valleys of unmentionable pain and i have not known how to support them. i haven’t abandoned my dear ones, but i have had little more to offer than a willingness to walk beside them through their personal hells. the combination of my inability to effectively support my friends with my occupational ineptitude eventually led me towards a psychologist’s couch where i have graciously and carefully been encouraged to visit the dark corners of my heart where i have always loathed to tread and confront the fact that though i am surrounded by supporting family and unsurpassed community i continually choose to live as an exile** in the illusory comfort of the margins.
in addition to my occupational and relational issues, i am as confident in my vocation as i am utterly unable to fulfill it. this year has also burdened the sinners and saints community with a number of difficult transitions, convoluted conflicts and missional uncertainties. in the midst of such chaotic times i have not provided clear leadership nor even had a clear picture of what such leadership might be. the only things i have been able to provide are regular teachings on the gospels of luke and occasional glimpses into a soul that is currently being reconstructed. what is more, for some unknown reason in the midst of such ineptitude i have stumbled into a couple of other opportunities to lead and serve. these latter opportunities are at least as horrifying as they are encouraging.
and yet, in the midst of all of this i realize that i am growing in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man at a rate that i have not for almost a decade. in the midst of my ineptitude, i am more in love with God and invested in the incarnational mission of Christ than i have ever been. ironically, the realization of my relational retardation has not alienated me from others but has bound me more tightly to them. it is as though God is simultaneously separating the strands of our lives so that He can weave us together into a basket that can receive, display and serve his beauty, goodness and truth to others. lastly, i have not lamented the loss of my latest job for one moment, but am leaning into the more useful, if not meaningful, employ that God will provide.
there is no doubt that this has been a horrible year indeed. but, in the end, i cannot thank either the Creator or those who have endured it by my side enough for it.
* i usually hate this word and would never use it to refer to people who have significant birth defects, mental and/or physical disabilities. but, for some reason, that is the only word that adequately describes my self-assessment in this area. thus, i do not use this term lightly.
** which is, i suspect, the reason that i am completely in love with the person of Jesus. but that’s a story for another day.
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