Today is my birthday and you know what that means. . . time for yet another angsty blog post. This is my second birthday in Medford. My family moved here after spending a year and a half in Florida —my frustrating venture into pastoral ministry. When we moved here, we were hoping to put all that behind us. However, last year (when I turned 42), I had discovered, wherever I go, I carry myself with me. I found, I still hungered for spiritual community, a church that was pursuing God’s call to care for the vulnerable, and invested in the place.

But I spent my first year in Medford too wounded and shell-shocked to really pursue anything like a relational community. I am an off the charts extrovert, but striking up conversations with strangers felt labored and hard. My world got smaller. I worked from home and would walk my kids to school in morning before taking my seat at my desk. We found a supportive church community to be a part of, but there were a lot of ways I didn’t really have the energy to invest much in others. I guess I was still hurt, and I kept everyone at a distance. But  I also felt the disconnect between the things I hungered for and wanted to see in the world, and what I was willing to risk.

It’s a year later and I haven’t figured out everything, and still have the sensation of spinning my wheels at life. I would love to tell you that I unlocked the secret, faced my fears and turned my life around and now I am a successful pastor. That didn’t happen. It sounds nice but you know, that’s kind of cliché. I am happy to report in a blogosphere full of rags-to-riches success stories and life-changing self-help gurus, I have failed to become a cliché again. Maybe next year you can tune into this space and I can share with you how you too can build your brand and monetize your platform. Until then, just more hope-dashed cynicism.

Okay, that just went a little dark. Sorry. When I posted last year’s birthday blues post, someone commented that 42 was the meaning of the life, the universe, and everything according to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. I don’t think I discovered all of life’s secrets but there were ways I took the past year to pursue meaning:

  1. I started running again. I haven’t fully maintained my weekly run 3-4 times a week routine, but I am in a physically healthier place than I was a year ago.
  2. I started to recover some of my sense of self. I am more outgoing than I have been in a while. Even joined the church I’ve been attending. It only took me nearly two years. I feel more open to others than I’ve had in a while.
  3. I’ve spent time working with a Spiritual Director. This has been hugely helpful in discerning some of the things that have been holding me back (e.g. fear of rejection and not wanting to be just another paternalistic white male pastor type) and I’ve given space to listen to what the Spirit is whispering.
  4.  I got back in touch with some of my creativity.  A Church small group read together Julia Cameron’s Artist Way, and I started writing daily ‘morning pages’ when I get up in the morning. It’s helped me be more self-reflective and more self-aware. And as an artistically reclined person, I’ve had tons of creative projects that I’ve thought about doing and never did. This year, I started to do some art again. I feel like I have neglected this space a little bit, but I’ve got stuff percolating.
  5. I’ve been preaching, not every Sunday, but more than I have in a while. I love giving space to listening and crafting messages and this is one of the things miss doing regularly and have a passion for and have loved being able to continue to grow and hone my gifts.  I have a lot of deep joy in this.
  6. I have a growing desire to write. I don’t know what, and I have a hard time calling myself a writer but it is something I want to do.

There is a lot that is good happening in life. I don’t know what 43 will hold, but I feel like I am one step closer on the journey of becoming. Self-actualization or bust.

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I am a pastor, husband, father, instigator, pray-er, hoper, writer, trouble-maker, peacemaker, and friend. Who are you?

3 thoughts on “43.”

  1. Once again, James, well written. Honest, vulnerable and witty (love the “artistically reclined”). Do continue on in your creativity of life well lived

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