I confessed to the guys at our accountability meeting on Sunday that one of the points of anxiety that still lingers since leaving professional ministry is that I am one year shy of 40 and without any hint of a career. I tend to be a focused individual. So when I received what I felt was a calling into professional ministry years ago, I pursued it with everything I had. I envisioned myself as a pastor for the rest of my working life.
But now, I feel I am answering a new call not to be in professional ministry. And I honestly don’t know if this is a temporary or permanent thing. Now almost three years since leaving professional ministry, I still have no idea if this is short-term, long-term or permanent. Until recently, the unknown has caused weekly bouts of mild depression and an internal compulsion to get back into ministry. But toward the end of last year, I discovered that both ailments are gone.
I guess I’m learning how to be a bit more content with where I am. That has meant putting forth a lot of effort into learning how to trust God with such a huge unknown in my life. So when I read a quote by Henri Nouwen this afternoon, I realized this is exactly where I’ve needed to grow and in fact am growing:
“Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, ‘How will next year be for me? Where will I be five or ten years from now?’ There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. Let’s rejoice in the little light we carry and not ask for the great beam that would take all shadows away.”
So this year, I am planning on learning what Nouwen calls “the art of living” — enjoying what I can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. I’m going to enjoy my wife, kids and friends more this year. I’m going to enjoy both my precious faith-community and my frequent excursions into the established church. I’m going to enjoy my friends and role at work. I’m going to enjoy my wedding video partnership, especially the new people I will meet and the new opportunities for creative expression it will offer me. And I will enjoy creating a lot more this year through music, writing, photo and video.
I think I’m through feeling like I’m in survival mode and will finally get on with learning how to live and minister in deeper and more authentic ways.
God has given me just enough light. And I’m learning it truly is enough to enjoy life.