We are at the two year anniversary of when my world shattered. I have written extensively about all of this on the blog, but to summarize…
If you had asked me in April 2009 about my life I would have told you that I had never been happier, more engaged in my ministry, excited about the future, etc. The church was healthy, growing, baptizing people, celebrating new believers and pursuing exciting plans to grow and impact the larger community. We were intentionally becoming more missional, deeper in terms of spiritual formation, and more diverse. All incredibly exciting stuff. In fact, I remember telling someone that I wouldn’t have traded my life for anyone in the world.
Then it blew up.
Within 24 hours I lost pretty much everything: my closest friends, faith community, home, church, job, income, ministry, and sense of calling. I was also thrown out of the closet, and all of this was played out pretty publicly.
For the first 2 weeks, I was literally paralyzed — with fear, anger, despair, guilt, sadness, loneliness. All of it. I pretty much didn’t leave the couch during those first two weeks. Despite just having recently preached a sermon called “Jesus Is Greater Than Our Greatest Failures”, I wasn’t sure that was true for me.
Today, two years later, I can honestly say again that I am happy, healthy, growing in my love of Jesus and of people, experiencing deeper intimacy with God, re-discovering community and in a church I love. I have a job a like, a degree from culinary school, am comfortable for the first time in my life with who I am, by choice out of the closet, and have a deep and abiding sense of gratitude for the gracefulness of Jesus. I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone.
I wish I had gotten hear without all the loss, pain and damage inflicted on others, and hardship — but you can’t go back, you can’t rewind, you can’t live in regret. Jesus is truly greater than my greatest failure — and greater than my fears, my doubts, my regrets, and my mistakes.
Reflecting back on the past two years, I have wondered how I made it to where I am — and realize that it was not inevitable or guaranteed. The script could have been different, far more tragic.
Here are three things I realized: (1) God never left me and I never left him; (2) at every turn, even as many people abandoned or attacked me, loving and faithful people stood by me, walked with me and supported me; and (3) during the first three months of the crisis (Summer 2009), I made six critical decisions that I am convinced saved my world.
I don’t think I knew at the time that I was making them, but in retrospect I can see them — and the Holy Spirit’s role in them — and can also see that they actually helped create a map and a pathway from despair and hopelessness to new life and full hope. I hope by sharing them, they may be helpful to others.
I will blog in detail about each of these decisions in the coming days… here are the six decision I made that saved my world:
1. Prioritize & Seek Community
2. Find Mentors & Listen to Them
3. Embrace 100% Transparency
4. Take Full Responsibility — No If’s, And’s or But’s
5. Move Forward with Integrity — Because Integrity Always Wins
6. Keep my Eyes on Jesus as I Limp Through the Race
These six things were critical. I don’t think they are magic or a formula. But each one, in a different way, is essential.
As I reflect on each this week, I would love to hear your thoughts, insights and your own personal stories…
Thanks for being in the journey with me.