For the next five days, I’ll be cloistered at The Upper Room’s Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation.
What’s special about this particular one is that it’s designed for those who serve as spiritual guides at crossroads. You know, those jobs sort of with the church but not quite. Those serving as campus ministers, camping and retreat staff, chaplains and others who are serving in various capacities that don’t fit so neatly in the local church setting.
I know I’m in desperate need of some sort of retreating. New job in the last 18 months, new city, new relationships, new community and a few closed doors and recently opened ones.
I am already becoming more aware of the Spirit’s nudging in this space. Something was pricked–not very far beneath the surface of my being– when I sang the words, to The Summons:
Lord, your summons echoes true
When you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you
And never be the same.
In your company I’ll go
Where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow
In you and you in me.
Daily, we have a theme that guides our conversations and gatherings. Today’s, was awaken [or some version of that word.]. Mary Oliver’s poem, The Journey, set the tone for opening worship.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
I’ve stopped feeling the need to respond to each of those clamoring voices that I think are calling me to mend. It’s not dependent on me, which is not to say I don’t care. It’s to say I’m gaining clarity.
Waking up to our identity in God is not for the faint of heart, one of our worship leaders preached. It sure isn’t. Because who God nudges us to be can be breathtaking. It can be scary. It can mean ditching what you think you knew about yourself, only to discover that what’s ahead is far better than what you dreamed.
What does it mean to live into our true selves? When was it in our growing up that we were conditioned to go through life believing that those things that make up our life are non-negotiable? The crappy relationship, the keeping up of appearances, the job that absolutely sucks the life out of you, the coworkers who need to give you the latest gossip every morning, the illusive plan that one day you’ll quit and do what you really want to do with your life.
But what would it look like to try and listen to that voice inside that said, “This isn’t all there is. There’s so much more.”? Yes, your voice that’s maybe just a whisper right now. Barely audible, but still speaking.
Brené Brown, wrote:
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.
So what is it that you’re running from? What’s preventing you from owning your story?
If we own our story, we know how it ends.
What’s it gonna be?