Yesterday I felt desperate. Then I felt discouraged. I wanted to talk about it last night when my emotions were in a swirl, but I didn't want to talk about it last night while my emotions were in a swirl and regret saying something or sound too whiny either. In these moments, I try to remember, "this too will pass."
In the afternoon, I was preparing a rough draft of our financial budget for our house church network. (For my pastor and parachurch ministry friends out there, I know I've said enough, you understand completely.) However, for those who don't understand, here are a few tidbits. When you start looking at the total amount given and you start looking at what could help you reach the next level as a church/ministry or in our case as a house church network and things don't even come close to matching up, it's easy to have some intense emotions connected to that. The increased part of that for me is the type of idealism that we are trying to reach. We want to create a church system whereby most of our money goes to help those in need. We want to give away more than we use. And of course, we are still in an infant stage, but this is also where precedent can/must be set in many ways. What do we stand for? What are we about? What do we hope to accomplish? What is our vision? I believe WE ARE living those things out for the most part, it just doesn't show up on paper in black and white. Which, I suppose is fine, but it has it's emotional struggle attached to that for me. The question I'm left with is, "how do you live in a church paradigm where your intent is to help the needy instead of using it on yourself in the form of salary, building, and programmatic needs, when you have salary, building and/or programmatic needs?" This is the tough question we are dealing with. And it carries with it a lot of emotion. To be honest, I feel responsible for the failure because my family needs it's portion through a part-time salary to maintain our own survival mode of life. I do see light at the end of the tunnel. My wife may go back to work next school year. I'm going to start a Master's program to be a school counselor that should take 2-3 years. Our house church network will conceivably grow. The economy will pick up. But, all of those things are still in the future.Today, I feel desperate.
Then later in the evening I was reminded of where we are as a people learning how to love one another. In the midst of a nice, friendly discussion learning about organic church, a heated and emotional conversation took place that left me wondering why are we doing this? One of my goals in starting a house church network is to see increased depth of relationship and truly loving one another in Christian community. While I will not say that our flare up was in opposition to this truth (in many ways it was the result of depth of relationship), it still left me wondering. My mind wandered to the other situations that I've experienced with members of our house church network that made me wonder,"is this increased Christian community or is it the same old, same old?" I began to get discouraged.
One reality of depth of relationship is an example of when a couple gets married. I know a greater depth of relationship has this great appeal to it, but with that comes a whole new reality. Consider when a bride is getting to know her new husband. At first, the socks on the floor aren't that big of a deal. But, after some time, somehow it becomes a big deal. Does she still love him? Why, of course. Does he still love her? We think so. But, now the harsh reality of depth of relationship causes them to figure out how to love one another. Sounds rather simplistic and unimportant, but socks left on the floor of a relationship over time lead to harsh emotions of feeling uncared for and/or even abandoned in a relationship. Common, practical patterns of behavior lead to conflict and/or emotional struggle for two people trying to experience a deeper sense of relationship. The rubber has met the road.
The discouragement comes when we forget these realities are inevitable. The encouragement comes when we remember that these are opportunities for growth, for responding to a person's expressed needs, and being reminded of how very much our interactions and lives affect others. Another problem we have is telling a person we have a problem with that we have a problem with them. We think if we sweep it under the rug, it'll be okay. We think if we just talk to someone else about it, we'll feel better. We think if we can try to just manipulate things behind the scenes, we will get our way. The truth is all of these things cause damage. They can destroy a relationship. The best thing we can do is to simply tell someone what our problem with them is and ask how we can do things differently. Remember, problems are created by two. Someone does something I don't like, then I respond in a certain way (emotionally or in my mind, even). Therefore fixing the problem needs the work of two people. Perhaps someone can change the way they do things or perhaps they don't need to, but you just need to understand why they are doing what they are doing. Perhaps a little of both is necessary. Perhaps a lot of both is necessary. The key here is to be willing to share the offense you've felt with the person who offended you in a kind way, seeking a solution that will increase your relationship. Of course, it takes two to reconcile. But, as much as it is within your power, seek to live at peace with everyone. SEEK! That takes effort and initiative, not passivity, not avoidance, and not manipulation.
Wow! And to think last night, I was desperate and discouraged. Today is a new day! Even now as I've worked through these issues through blogging, I feel much better! I feel great hope! I know God will help us through as we seek His direction and guidance. I am reminded of his grace and mercy and how much we all need it. I hope you have experienced that as well and are helping others to experience it through a depth of relationship that speaks volumes and volumes of love for others!