Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where Have I Been?: Part 2

Church Planting. (And this is a long one!)

Ok. So, up until January, me and church planting were getting along pretty fantastically. Nothing scary or intimidating about it at all. It was a small, sweet group that met in our apartment. They came over. I got to cook for them. We'd study the Bible a bit. Pray together. We had our bumps like anybody else, but it was all quite manageable in my mind.

In January we had our first preview service. (So people could come see our church in a more "churchy" setting, cause some people think a church that meets in an apartment is kinda weird.) We had one a month for three months. Now something about setting up the stage and the curtains and hospitality tables and all that jazz caused my subconscious to set up its defenses without my permission. It knew, even while I chose to deny, that the more we set up, the more people that are around, the more Casey preaches the Bible, the more honest community there is, the more my family is exposed and vulnerable. And sort of unintentionally, I started to clam up.

Fear started taking up residence in my heart.
Then Doubt moved in.
And of course, that overbearing queen, Insecurity made herself right at home.

By the third preview service...I still didn't realize this was happening. But it was. I wasn't interested in getting together with anyone. I didn't want to talk with anyone about anything of meaning or consequence. I just wanted to be with Casey and Braelyn at home, safely tucked into our apartment. I would of said that I was just tired or "we've been around a lot of people," or that things needed to get done at home, but there was certainly more going on.

Our third preview service was on March 20th. On March 19th, we went out with some friends, then Casey and I came home and watched a little TV before bed. When our show was over, Casey turned the TV off and said something to the effect of, "Here we go!" Now, you know in movies when someone is about to get swallowed up by a gigantic wave and it goes all slow-motion and their eyes close and very dramatically you see their body knocked over by the wall of water? Do you know what I am talking about? Because that is exactly what happened to me on March 19th, except that it wasn't a wave of water, it was a wave of terror. Yes, it was at that very moment that my subconscious chose to reveal to the rest of my brain how afraid I really was.

All I could think about was the promise of criticism.
All I could think about was the promise of being hurt.
All I could think about was the horror stories of congregations running off their pastors.
All I could think about was that we have to be perfect all the time or people will reject us. Well, then I thought that vowing perfection seemed a little unrealistic and tiresome, but then I thought of the rejection and vowed perfection again, and I went on and on with this conundrum for a while until it hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that I had been clamming up for many weeks and I realized why. I am so afraid to disappoint people. What if they get to know me and decide that what I have to offer is not enough? What if I don't meet their "pastor's wife" expectations? Apparently, when confronted with this fear, my natural instinct is to retract and hide. Offer nothing of myself and then, if by accident, something helpful leaks out people are pleasantly surprised.

(Reader: It will be helpful to remember at this point in the post that I was on my fertility meds during this time, so that is very much contributing to my little panic attack here. So don't start worrying your pretty little heads over my self-esteem. Okay?! :)

I tearfully confessed my sin and my insecurities to Casey in that late hour. This is what he said: "Yes, it will be hard. And yes, there will be criticism. But we must go in the way of Jesus, and that is to love completely and fully regardless of how we are treated. Our approval comes from Christ. Our confidence comes from Christ. Our calling comes from Christ, so we must not shrink back, but press on all the more."

To be honest, it took a little while for those words to sink in. It wasn't that night. It wasn't even the next day. But Truth has begun to clear out the false. It was sin, plain and simple. And I'm certain that this will not be the last time that I struggle with it, BUT...I am thankful to the Lord that He, in His kindness revealed my sin to me, that I might repent, know my sin, know myself and be on guard for it as we continue to plant this church. I've let go of self-preservation as best I can, and am trying to love our people well. I know that we will disappoint people. I know that I will disappoint people. And I even know that the Lord is never disappointed in us because of Christ. But here's the honest question that I'm asking myself these that enough for me? My prayer is that on the day of Casey's last sermon, when we're old and gray I will say with confidence and all sincerity, "Lord, you are and have been a great deal more than enough."

Before I go, I really do want to assure you that I am okay. I am happy and content and nearer to the Lord than I've been in a long time. I've shared some of my insecurities with you as honestly as I can for the sake of authenticity, but the very last thing that I want is anyone to feel sorry or worried for me. There is no need. The Lord has me. And He is with me. He has ferociously protected our marriage. And He is showering blessings on our little church. Truly! I am excited to share some of those things with you, but I've rambled on quite long enough for one night. :)

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
1 John 4:18


Psalm 139. What a mighty promise!


mandi said...

love you lady friend...

Jenny said...

Perfect Love casts OUT fear....yay! Love to you and now, I don't know a single "pastor's wife" personally, but from the bit I know of you from this blog you are a joy and an encourager that God mightily uses and if I was in your congregation I would dearly miss it if I didn't have the chance to know you better.

Mommy, M.D. said...

I love you my friend! Let's just say I relate a little, and leave it at that...