It’s that time of year again. To look back over the previous year to see what prevailing theme springs up. 2017 ended with a shocker that caught me flat-footed. Not God though, He was preparing for it. Let’s look and see what He was up to.
Early to Mid 2017
I did a thought experiment on going back to my old ways. Just the thought of it felt like I was moving upstream against a heavy current. Instead, everything has been moving toward loving others more, opening up to them, and caring for them.
My heart was breaking more for the grieving, more so than before. However, over the course of the year, a new burden was added. To see a large, active Deaf church. I’ll return to this later.
My few friendships grew closer and deeper. I gained a deeper appreciation for relationships. One of the important things in life is developing relationships and creating memories. They add color and joy to life.
I also watched people drift away. The ones that remained grew closer together, becoming like family. I love the time with my friends, making sure to capture the memories on paper. They have my heart.
At the start of the year, I noticed people were opening up to me. I asked my mentor, Jaime, why. Her answer was people noticed the consistent and steady transformation in mine and Casey’s lives.
Then I began to mourn and grieve over people and the world. For a long time, I couldn’t describe it until I read Deitrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. He summed it up well with this quote:
Such men mourn for the world, for it’s guilt, its fate, its fortune. While the world keeps holiday they stand aside, and while the world sings, “Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,” they mourn. They see that for all the jollity on board, the ship is beginning to sink. The world dreams of progress, of power and of the future, but the disciples meditate on the end, the last judgment, and the coming of the kingdom.
I’m saddened because I can see the negative consequences that’ll happen if people don’t stop. The world and its pain make me sad. I asked Jaime about it, and she said to get it into my core.
So I do, becoming more empathic, and learning to see with an eternal perspective. While facing an onslaught of personal and spiritual attacks, others were noticing my growing heart. That led to burnout.
Every year I go through a season of burnout and fatigue. I was emotionally drained this time. To combat it, I added Wednesday as another day of Sabbath rest. The idea comes from the True Vine passage, operating alone leads to failure. The more you do, the more time you need with God.
Trustworthy With A Little Leads To Being Trusted With More
Our roles grew in Deaf Church. While the Pastor was away she put me, Casey, and John in charge of a Family Bowling Night. On another weekend, she had to be out of town, she entrusted Casey to host a women’s event and me to be the substitute teacher for the class.
Through it all, we were noticed, tested, and given an opportunity to join the Deaf church’s leadership team. It was before all this that the burden to see a thriving Deaf church was already in place. We even turned down an opportunity to lead a 1st Grader class because we didn’t feel led there, but to the Deaf Church.
I still wasn’t completely sure what it would entail at that point.
We proved faithful with little and were given more. It’s an important promotion principle, especially if you’re not even trying to get ahead. That takes the ego out of it.
Our training began, and assignments were given, such as connecting with everyone in the room at events, how to teach a class, etc. These pushed me outside my comfort zone and I definitely needed God’s help. I felt vibrantly alive while doing it.
My strength lies in supporting and coordinating in the background. Thanks to Daisy’s leadership in GriefShare, I learned how to be more comfortable in the foreground. It’s becoming easier to blend what she and Jaime taught me in both ministries.
The church is becoming like a second home and I’m loving it.
As far as my faith this year, I learned about God’s sovereignty, compassion, and discipleship. In areas of leadership, I learned how to see people, create culture, and unfortunately disciplining people along with dealing with critics. I may expand on these in posts this month.
The Shocker of 2017
Then we learned Jaime was stepping down as pastor to focus on her son. Gary stepped into the role officially the day this posts. I didn’t see this coming at all. Proverbs 20:24 was at work, “A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How can anyone understand their own way?” I don’t think any of us saw this coming last January.
Alongside Pastor Gary, John, and Casey, I’m investing in Deaf Church’s future. I do feel the weight of it, people’s eternity is at stake. That thing I’ve felt I’m being prepared for the last couple of years, I believe this is it.
2017 has been the year of finding my purpose. It’s been a year of preparation. The greater appreciation of relationships, an enlarging heart for people, grieving the brokenness, my spiritual and personal struggles have been God at work molding me for the work He has for me. The leadership lessons from work experiences, church, Jaime, and Daisy (not to mention more than a few books); has been training.
2018 is going to take it all to another level. I can feel it.