The following is a post from one of our Military Chaplains about his recent participation in our ChurchWorks conference. How grateful I am for his sharing!
I didn’t realize how bad things were until I started to reflect honestly about my story. Sure, I had done some of that before but it had been a while. And in that span of time a lot of things happened that were changing me in more ways than I knew.
Some of those things were common place issues that I dealt with at work (at least normal for being a military chaplain). But there was something else happening that was changing my images of God and my understanding of faith and ministry. I was raised in the church and earned degrees from two very good Baptist schools. But all of my training just raised more questions. I was becoming very cynical about life and ministry. But the final straw for me was the pace of my life and work. It’s non-stop. And there’s this poisonous carrot that is always just out of reach. But it’s still so tempting. If only you do this then you will have done good. If only you make it to that level then you will have made it. If only….
The cummulative stresses of ministry combined with my own baggage of feeling needed had some significant hidden consequences for my family and faith. Looking back I can see some of the disconnects. But when you’re in the middle of the desert your perception can be skewed. And the constant barrage from the storms of life can wear you down. I was in bad shape. Not knowing where to turn I sent a “Hail Mary” email to someone I did not know. It was my cry for help. And my plea of desparation was heard.
I believe there’s something (energy, God, something Mysterious and beyond me, the Holy Ghost) at work in my life that brings me into sacred moments with others at critical points in our journeys. I’m not sure how that works but I’ve experienced it. And that happened once again with that email and my visit to Churchworks in February.
At that conference I felt accepted and part of a community of faith. I was given more tools for sacred contemplation. I was able to sit and not do so much in worship. I was encouraged to slow down, be myself and not give in to the fear of failure and being authentic in ministry. I felt more free to express my struggles as faith experiences and to release them at the altar.
I guess it can be summed up best by my new friend that took the time to listen and care. “It’s amazing how God works,” he said. Yes it is!