finding out what it means to be who i am

several weeks ago i was given the chance to visit alpine for the 1st time since we left last july. when we realized we were going to have the opportunity the day quickly filled up with food and friends.

lunch happened to be w a group of ladies i really appreciate from my time at fbc and during the conversation my good friend bennye asked if i would mind emailing her a list of the books i was presently reading. when i did so she responded with a short reply of thanks coupled with a statement that caught me off guard.

the lord wants you to be kent.  find out what that means!

that phrase has been on my mind and heart for over a month. it was a little puzzling at first bc i was comfortable thinking i knew who i was but as i look back at my journey over the past year and especially the past month since our visit the immense wisdom of the statement has become evident to me.

i have been in a debilitating depression since leaving alpine. i didnt recognize it at first bc during the summer we were very busy traveling and moving in but once things began to settle down and i was left with no job no outlet for ministry and no real direction the crushing weight of it all bore down on me.

but bennyes statement that day watered a seed of healing in me. in the past few weeks since our visit i have raised that question with god almost daily – and ive been considering what it means. i dont know that ive even wrapped my mind completely around it yet but i think im beginning to understand.

the things ive been thru – the feelings of rejection and abandonment i have wrestled with – they cant define me…..but my sorrow is formative. its shaping me. if im lazy and just go along for the ride the shape may end up being a diminished faith and a lackluster use of the gifts and training god has given me. but if i engage my sorrow and work through it – accepting it as part of who i am – i will grow not only in faith and wisdom but in my ability to actually be a pastor to others.

and though im not clear of the woods just yet im thankful for her speaking that into my life and for being such a blessing in doing so.

also – in the past few weeks ive added 2 books to my list and wanted to pass them along bc both have worked in concert with her challenge to me.

the first one is losing god by matt rogers. its a memoir of sorts about one pastors journey through a painful depression and battle with doubt. to find a contemporary who was willing to openly confess such a struggle and in some ways toss a flare into my darkness was extremely helpful.

the other one i am about half way through is from philip yancey and its called disappointment with god. yancey has taken stories from the bible that im very familiar with and talked about them in a way that has opened my eyes to the gravity of their meaning. he talks about abraham and joseph and how they must have dealt with disappointment and disillusionment and then turns everything on its head and begins to speak about gods dynamic interaction with his creation and how he too is “acquainted with sorrow”.

in all of this i am pursuing the challenge to find out what it means to be who i am. im certainly not there yet and it may take much longer than i suspected but now at least my eyes are open.

thanks bennye!


~ by graceshaker on April 26, 2010.

6 Responses to “finding out what it means to be who i am”

  1. Hey man. I wrote Losing God and wanted to offer you my prayers as you go through your dark night. One thing I wish I’d been able to put in the book: about the time Losing God was heading to the printers, I began suffering serious depressive symptoms again. This time, I decided to take my own advice to see a doctor and find a counselor. The doc prescribed citalopram for depression, and that, along with the therapy from a trained, licensed counselor, has done wonders for me. If you haven’t seen a doc and counselor, I’d strongly encourage you to do so. Don’t wait, oh, about 10 years like I did. :) God bless you, friend. May you daily experience more of the light and less of the dark.

  2. ^^That is beautiful of Matt to stop by.
    From a ‘layperson’ it’s comforting to know that we aren’t alone in our sorrows and grief. And I LOVE your phrase, “engaging the sorrow.” I wrote this awhile back:

    “At last I know what it is to have joy ~ not the pop-Christian-culture concept of “joy in my heart” but a deep, resonating element of serenity that has been shaped by sorrow and refined by the hand of God.”

    I think you join the ranks of David and Elijah through your suffering. And you, too, can change the world.

  3. Ive recently been asking myself who I am. Am I my actions? My feelings? My beliefs? My likes and dislikes? My thought process? A culmination of all these things or is there something deeper and greater? A Buddhist friend recently said: “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.”

  4. thanks matt!

    hill – learning to engage sorrow has been one of the hardest things but i understand about resonating serenity. despite feeling abandoned at times and all the doubts there is in me an odd peace. would love to have coffee and talk more about this sometime.

    gw – maybe ive forgotten how to remain…?

  5. brother i can hardly wait to talk with you Friday night

  6. Interesting. I actually catch myself asking myself the same question quite often..

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