Skip to main content

learning to walk

It feels like I've been running for years and now I'm learning to walk.

For years, anxiety kept me on my toes. Moving fast. Nervous of what was around the next corner. Waiting for the next trigger to surprise me. Anxious of the next reminder that my life looked fine on the outside and I was a nervous wreck on the inside.

I kept busy to avoid that swirling cloud of dust that trailed behind me. I had fun, loved people well, served beloved churches, made a family and created a life I love. Except for the feeling that would sneak in around dark corners that maybe, just maybe, a lot of this life was built on shaky ground. I knew the Jesus story well and it was changing my heart. However, some days it felt like I was simply adding the Jesus story on top of my already shaky foundation, instead of digging up the old stories of my earlier foundation that no longer served me.

How many days did I beat myself up inside because I was a pastor with panic attacks? With all the information and experiences of God and our holy stories, why didn't I feel at peace more often? Each panic attack or season of anxiety was another reminder of the human frailty inside me. I was determined to learn from it to at least help the people around me as they navigated their own imperfections.

In February, I decided to pull back the covers on my life and shine a light on my auto pilot. I was curious about what I would find. I've spent decades afraid of what was underneath. No more. Well, I was still scared, but I didn't care anymore. My life was not sustainable. When the panic attacks during preaching started again, it was time.

I wanted to befriend the parts of me that scared me. I thought they'd have something to teach me. My heart has whispered, "anxiety, don't leave me, until you've taught me everything I need to know."

This intense season of growth, discomfort, pain, truth and grace has been transformative. I've been running for a long time. It's what I knew. It wasn't a bad life.

But this walking thing?

Wow.

Freedom.

Comments

Most Read

Why Some Experienced Clergy (and Lay People) Have a Hard Time When Younger Clergy Take Renewal Leave

This is a guest post from my very own dad! He's a United Methodist pastor serving in Bend, Oregon. I enjoy chatting church leadership with my dad and it's fascinating to see how our generational differences bring different perspectives to our calling as pastor. We need each generation to walk with each other as we figure it out in this new world. We've been reflecting lately as I finished up a renewal leave and he prepares to retire this June. 
By David Beckett
I fall into the category of experienced clergy which is a polite way of saying I am old. I’ve been pastoring for nearly 40 years. When I was a young pastor my role models were mostly white males who presented an image of success that equated with dedication, overwork, and sacrifice. My first senior pastor talked about the 20 hr/wk he invested in sermon preparation. And he expected his staff to work beyond their stated hours. During those three years of full time seminary and a large youth group I put in up to 80 hr/…

Why pastors need collaboration, not competition

There's competition in every industry. Some get promoted over others. Some work incredibly hard but their gifts go unnoticed. Others do good work and people assume they're fine but underneath, they feel like they could never be honest about how hard life is in this season. People spend more energy figuring out how they measure up in a work culture instead of doing the actual work.

Competition itself implies there are two sides.

I remember field days at my elementary school in Alaska. The half-frozen spring ground was covered with clumps of dirty gray snow. Jackets were thrown on the ground as the fourth graders tried to beat the fifth graders at tug of war. Rope burns were shrugged off as sweat dripped down our young faces. We were determined to beat those fifth graders. Our pride was on the line.

Whether you're a fourth grader or an ad manager at a fancy marketing agency or a senator trying out for attorney general, competition runs deep in our DNA.

We want to be the bes…

Why I stay in the United Methodist Church

We can't ignore the numbers. The United Methodist Church is in decline. Many ask, "Why do you stay? Denominations are useless these days."

But I face that reality with overwhelming hope and excitement. I see the Holy Spirit weaving its way through our current & new leadership in ways I've only dreamed of. A couple years ago, I thought about leaving. But I decided to ask some hard questions about why we're in decline. And that journey to the heart of the United Methodist movement has lit a fire in me to see it renewed.

Why I Stay...

1. Our faith is active. We get our hands and hearts dirty in service & relationships.
2. Every United Methodist church is connected through a network of gatherings, prayer, service, money, agencies and leadership. I would never want to serve in building God's kingdom by myself.
3. I see God changing hearts and lives every. single. day.
4. I am fascinated by our founder who's only intention was to create a renewal movement ins…