Alone

Feeling alone, feeling lonely, and being by yourself. It isn’t a pleasant feeling, and one that leaves us feeling hopeless.

I’ve mentioned before that I have the privilege of working with a bunch of students in a one year residential recovery program. It is hard, very hard, working with guys who are in the midst of becoming more self aware, making amends, and trying to life live better. Last week, one of those students left the program. I’m used to that. It happens. It happens a lot- guys thinking they can do life on their own, feeling like they “got enough recovery” (which you can never have enough of) and leave after two weeks, a month, even after a year and a half in the internship program.

He left. It was sad, and a lot of the other students were sad, because he loved the Word, the scripture…Jesus. But he left. We mourned that, hoping he would come back after his mandatory 30 day out since he left.

Then yesterday, he was found dead……overdose…..in a trashy hotel room……

…….alone

I am sad that he died when he had so much potential, head was on straight and loved Jesus. I’m sad that he overdosed falling back into his old addictions, instead of leaning on Jesus. And I am mostly sad that he died alone. That he had walked away from community that he was leaning into for support. A community that was being the body of Christ to him, walking the road of recovery together.

Alone

He is not the only one who has walked away from community. He is not the only one who has walked away from the Body of Jesus that was there to lean on in times of struggle. He is not the only one that has broken relationship because of his addiction. He is not the only one who has chosen addiction in hopes of finding something to satisfy their desires, only to end up alone. All alone.

I’ve done it. I’ve done that several times. It’s why I choose, now, to lean into community, as much as I can. It doesn’t mean that I don’t walk away at times. But it does mean that I often choose to not be alone. And when I am feeling lonely, I’ve learned to reach out to a recovery friend, my sponsor, my spiritual director, my leadership coach and others. Because when I am alone, when I’m feeling lonely, that’s when I go to my addictions for escape.

I don’t know all who read this, and I don’t know all who share this to others. But my prayer for you, for every single one of you….for me…is that we reach out, be vulnerable, find community and lean into it whenever we are struggling. As I’ve said before, we ALL have addictions. Please know you don’t have to walk this road alone. That is not the life Jesus desires for you. Reach out….and discover the family of Christ. Even if you feel you are good and don’t need anyone else, that’s a lie. Please don’t believe it…and please reach out, no matter your addiction.

be blessed today

Advertisements

When Reality Bites…Belief

Oh, the arrogance. Just nothing but pure pride. This may surprise you (wink wink) but I do get that way at times. Since I was the only paid pastor working with teenage students in our town, I was asked to be on a small ecumenical team trying to reach the youth of the city. The team was made up of a handful of people who were volunteer youth leaders from a variety of churches that would meet once a month to plan a big event to reach out to the students once a year. By at least a decade, I was the youngest member on the team. And, by at least a decade, I had the least amount of experience in ministry. I attended my first meeting with them, listened to their ideas, and then went home thinking, “It’s obvious they need me. So, I’ll make their event better and teach them how to do youth ministry in the process.” Me and my humble twenty-something wisdom shining brightly in that thought…

The event did go off more successfully than even I had thought, and each of the youth ministries represented at the event, saw an influx of new students immediately after. It was a huge success. In all of this, what I believed was that I was a fabulous youth pastor who simply just had a gift. And why not? The youth ministry at our church had grown tremendously over the last two years I had been there, which in turn, caused the church to grow. I realize now, in my late-thrity-something wisdom, that very little did that growth have to do with me and very little of that event going well have to do with anything “fabulous” I did. I believed I was humble. I believed I was this great teacher. But reality showed what I really was-arrogant, prideful and not very humble.

This summer, I watched Hidden Figures, a movie I believe every person in America should watch. It didn’t show the extreme racism that tends to make the news, or like we saw in Charlottesville. Nope. It showed the everyday, common, subtle (to me, a white male) racism that went on and continues to go on to this day. There is an exchange between Octavia Spencer’s character-Dorothy Vaughan, and Kirsten Dunst’s character-Vivian Michael. Michael, who is Vaughan’s boss, should prejudice toward Vaughan throughout the whole movie. Again, not in a riot-down-the-street kind of way, but in a subtle, everyday common way. Michael makes this remark “I have nothin’ against y’all.” Vaughan replies, “I know. I know you probably believe that.”

This exchange epitomizes what I believe a lot of us struggle with-the difference between what we believe and reality. Those words were incredibly convicting for me, and I’m thankful for the writers for that fact. I need to be convicted, pointed out, made aware.

I know for me, I need to constantly examine myself if what I believe I am is living up to the reality that is actually going on around me, the reality that I’m living out. I need people in my life to help me by giving me a dose of reality if what I believe about myself, how I act, my tone, my vernacular, my attitude, isn’t really the reality that I am living out to those around me. Just a simple thought, with a deep self examination that I need. Perhaps you need it to.

be blessed today

 

Picture credit: ‘The Architect’ © Erik Johansson-Source: https://www.yellowtrace.com.au/surreal-distorted-reality-by-erik-johansson/