Doubting: it’s fine!

Someone is coming through our apartment later because our landlords are looking to sell the building. Nothing will change on our end, but between making the space more tidy and trying to ignore my fussy sinuses, I’m already pretty tired. I shared in a previous blog that I curl my hair when I want to look like I have it together; I clean like *crazy* when I’m avoiding other tasks, or when I need to process something. It works out in my favor because the cleaning gets done – and it needs to today – and I had some thinking to do.

Yesterday I had the honor of speaking to high school students from Holland Christian about what it’s like to be a baby in ministry. It was cool to do that with some of my peers: Rev. Jenna Brandsen, who serves as the Pastor of Formation for Mission at Pillar Church, and Rev. Benito Aguilera, the Pastor of Community and Global Engagement at Christ Memorial Church [which is my home church!]. Preparing for that conversation gave me time and space to reflect on how high school, college, and seminary prepared me for what I do as the Pastor of Discipleship and Youth.

One of the questions we were asked was: “What were you most afraid of when you first considered your call to ministry? Have you overcome it? How? If not, how do you manage it?”

I was afraid of a lot of things when I first considered ministry, and when I began my job last August:

  • that I wasn’t man enough.
  • that I wasn’t quiet enough.
  • that I couldn’t love people enough.
  • that I wouldn’t earn the respect of staff / consistory / ministry teams / etc.
  • that I was too young.
  • that I am too childish.
  • that no one would listen to my voice.
  • that I had nothing to say.
  • that people would judge me.
  • that God was actually just kidding when I heard the call to be a Pastor.

As a pastor, I’m discovering that a huge part of doing my job well is caring for myself. I need to eat well, sleep well, exercise, journal, read my Bible, spend time with my husband and family, pray fervently, and keep in contact with those who are holding me accountable to who I am. If I don’t do those things, I am susceptible to the voice that tells me the list up there is true. When I let those priorities slip, I am less connected to who God made me to be and I begin to flounder.

[Turns out that when I am doing those things, I’m a much more centered person, so that’s a bonus].

I don’t think it’s wrong to doubt ourselves, or external things. We give Thomas a hard time for needing to see the resurrected Jesus’ hands and side in order to believe that the impossible had become his reality… but why is that such an unreasonable request? His buddies told him they saw Jesus, but they were locked up in a room – if they had truly seen Jesus, why weren’t they out telling everybody about it? Perhaps Thomas missed Jesus’ first appearance to the disciples because he was out evangelizing, or comforting those who were reeling in the loss of the One they had spent years following. We have no idea why Thomas wasn’t in the room, so let’s not jump to spitting on his memory because of one story born out of grief.

Jesus speaks directly to Thomas, and I take great comfort in that.

Too much doubt isn’t good, but a bit of doubt only solidifies the fact that I’m a human being, and that I know what I’m good at / what I’m not good at.

So how do I manage the doubt / insecurity / things I’m afraid of? I’m honest about it, because that’s healthy.

[PS. if you’ve never doubted God, the gospel, the incarnation, salvation, etc., you have yet to wrap your mind around how unbelievable it is].

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