Tuesday, July 17, 2007

spillin' my guts

Sometimes when there is a lull in my blogging it's because my life has gotten crazy busy, and I just don't have a spare moment to put my thoughts into coherent sentences. Other times, it is because I am avoiding my blog because I can't share what is in my heart...because it's too painful and/or because it wouldn't be helpful to anyone. I don't want to simply use this as a forum to spew my frustrations on the world, so I pull back for a bit til I can get a grip on myself, and process through my emotions. This past week has been one of those time. (WARNING: THIS POST IS QUITE LONG, BECAUSE I HAD A LOT OF GUTS TO SPILL.)

The world of church planting, I'm convinced, is basically a series of highs and lows, hopes and disappointments, and LOTS of changes...constantly. Sometimes there's lots of people, sometimes there's few. Sometimes there's money, sometimes none. Sometimes joy, sometimes mourning. Sometimes there's options, sometimes you're just plain stuck. There's a weird struggle in me through all this...sometimes I thrive on it, and sometimes it feels like it is completely crushing me. I can totally see God working in me through it all, but the process is sometimes so painful.

He's showed me idolatry in my life...looking to other people to meet needs, rescue me, provide for me, and sometimes those idols have been ripped away. I'm beginning to learn it is easier, much less painful, if I just allow myself to see it, and give it up. HE is my source, no person.

I'm also learning to, in my pain or frustration, turn to and lean on my husband, rather than attack him. Now, don't misunderstand, I haven't mastered this, but I'm REALLY starting to get it. This weekend I was completely irrational, walking around picking at old wounds and forming imaginary new ones. While it was hard to share with him all that was swirling in my mind (mainly because on some level I knew the absurdity of it) I did open myself up and confess to him my inner wrestlings. He responded in the most loving, Godly way...he simply held me and left me cry, rant, pout...and then gently encouraged my heart with truth. He didn't belittle, scold or condescend, but rather reassured me of his love, while at the same time not joining in my pity party. In my mind, that is true leadership.

It's interesting the way our emotions can sometimes distort the truth. (I think I may do another whole post on that...). But I think that it's a very effective tactic of the enemy of our souls. What better way to take someone out - get them to give up, walk away - than to try to immerse them in their hurts - past, present and the fear of future ones. From the perspective I've been re-gaining the past two days, I truly believe that's what I've been experiencing the past week or so. This isn't just me being silly and random - it's not even just because I'm an 'emotional woman'. (I'm learning to value the fact that I AM an emotional WOMAN who serves an emotional GOD!) But this kind of struggle, I believe, it really spiritual warfare; an attack from a very real enemy who does not want to see God's kingdom advanced in Pottstown or anywhere, and will use any kind of slimy tactic to try to derail God's purposes. But the weapons of MY warfare on not "carnal" - not rooted in the selfish nature of my flesh, but rather are rooted in the spiritual realities of God's truth. I am so thankful for a Body of people that surround me - my husband, family & friends - and spurs me on it that very truth. The help me to see when the enemy is trying to enshroud me in a lie. The grab hold of my hand and pull me out of the pit of despair.

One of our leadership team members was encouraging me yesterday, saying that she truly believes we are on the brink of a breakthrough of some sort. She said she'd like to start logging when we do have breakthroughs, because she's apparently been noticing that the pattern has seemed to be that right before we do, I get hit really hard with something. She feels like it's because I am much of the 'vision carrier' in the long-term goals. (Todd & I refer to our personalities as 'lengthener' and 'strengthener' (terms coined by Larry Kreider based on Is. 54:2 "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes."). I am the lengthener - the 'big vision - "let's go for it, anything's possible!!" - type person, while he is the one with the attention to detail, making sure everyone is growing, maturing, being discipled - a true pastor's heart. We've come to terms with our personalities and are now learning to work together in them, rather than fighting them. Makes life much easier.) Anyway, our team member said that when I lose steam or feel defeated, it very much effects others, and so the enemy seems to make me the prime target. Hmmm...interesting observation. In some ways, I feel like I've been 'tipped off' about a terrorist plot and can now take steps to diffuse the plan!

I have more to talk about, but this is so long already, and supper must be made, so I'll have to go for now. It's good to be back.


Zoanna said...

I hear you and i relate. I like the way you put it: lengthener and strengthener. My hubby and I function this way (me: big picture, him the details). You are probably very right about being near a breakthrough. When the heat is on, arrows are gonna fly. So kind of God to give you a friend to point out this "tip off of a terrorist plot"! I really appreciated this post.
BTW, when you do get the breakthrough, make an Ebenezer Cake. (SEe my blog. If you can't find it there, ask me.) It's a great way to recount God's faithfulness to you all who are church planting. You've got to write them down, and get together every 4-6 months for a dinner, and make this cake, and then pull out your log of answered prayers and measures of growth. It's so uplifiting (and the cake is ANGEL FOOD, get it?) .

Zoanna said...

I went back and tried to find how I made it. Basically what happened was, PLAN A for our Ebenezer Dinner (which you can find on my www.zztalks.blogspot.com site) was to make a fancy 3-layer torte adn teach the other ladies of our care group. Well, I can't talk and bake at the same time, so I flubbed it.
Ended up getting an angel food cake and topping it with homemade chocolate frosting and fresh mini carns in the "hole" of the angel food bundt cake. I used peach carnations because it was our leader's wife b'day. I used blueberries, strawberries. and whipped cream in the "hole" for my Ben's graduation party (another Ebenezer--"thus far hath the Lord helped us'--time). The beauty is you can spend time dolling up the cake without making any batter (read: easy) or baking (read: no heat in summer). I did put a smide of orange juice in the frosting . So the recipe:
1 angel food cake
12 oz chocolate morsels
1 tsp oraange juice
8 oz sour cream
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Melt chocolate, stir in oj and sour cream. Pour it over cake and smooth it out. Sprinkle a handful of pecans here and there onto cake while frosting is still warm and moist so they'll stick. Circle the cake with rest of nuts. Fill "hole" with flowers or fruit to suit the occasion. I served mine on a fancy cake plate with a silver paper doily under the cake. Very feminine for the lady we were honoring!

Bets said...

Wow, Jess. I cried reading this, not because it made me sad, really, tho, knowing when you're struggling for any reason makes me hurt; but it was also tears of joy for me, because of you. You continue to amaze me with your honesty, your humility and your faithfulness. You are a blessing to me and so many others -- but especially me! I am so so thankful for you. You are such a part of who I am and who I am becoming. Thank you for being faithful to your call, for being transparent, for being real. I love you so very much.
~ Chumford!

jessi said...

Zo - Thanks for the idea...that's great...have you ever heard of Ebenezer's Coffeehouse in DC? If not, I'll have to tell you sometime!

Chum - Thanks so much for you encouragement. You, more than anyone, know my feelings and how hard some of this is to walk thru; thanks for sticking w/me no matter what (in other words, no matter how much of a pain in the butt I am!!) I love you.

Zoanna said...

No, never heard of Ebenezer Coffeehouse but you've piqued my interest! So glad you have a Chum to walk thru a church plant with. When my dear friend moved up to NH to plant a church from our current one, it was really, really rough on them. But she says they learned to lean on God more and on people less, that God can steer you in one direction but it may not be forever. In their case they left the church plant (which I'm sure you've experienced) but are still deeply in love with God and are still growing and still friends with those they left. It hurt me to hear a lot of the things, but Sandy and I were "chums" (still are) and I was her soundingboard. I counted it a privilege.