Today is my first day back in the church offices after a two week trip - one week to house hunt in Portland, Oregon and one week with our family in Florida. I was in the mail room this morning, and someone asked, “How was your trip? Are you excited about Portland.” The answer is…no, actually. But that’s ok. :)
A few weeks ago, I began to recognize a lot of fear in my life in regards to our calling to Portland. In fact, I told my friends that every day I wake up with about 30 minutes of terror. I used to think emotions like this were game-changers. In many instances, I’ve allowed undiagnosed fear the power in my life to shake my confidence and delay my obedience. I’ve begun to learn this doesn’t have to be the case. My morning terror takes on a lot of forms, most of them questions. “Where are we going to live?” “What if no one joins our team?” “Who’s gonna pay for all of this???” “Will Portland ever get a Chick-fil-a?”
I recently heard a sermon called, “The Emotionally Healthy Church.” It’s based on a book of the same name. In the message, Pastor John Mark Comer talked about some things that the Holy Spirit has been showing me in my own life. He pointed out a quote by the book’s author.
“In neglecting our intense emotions, we are false to ourselves and lose a wonderful opportunity to know God. We forget that change comes through brutal honesty and vulnerability before God.”
- Peter Scazzero
I have begun to realize that Jesus doesn’t want me to stuff my intense emotions, or to pretend they are not there. I couldn’t replace the feeling of fear with the feeling of excitement. This is where all of my failure was coming from. However, I could be honest about the fear I was feeling, and walk forward anyway. My 30 minutes of terror still happens about every three days. Instead of being a deterrent to my future, or a sign of future failure, I’ve come to recognize it for the gift that it is - a bridge to the deepest intimacy with God I’ve ever experienced.
You don’t have to be a church planter, a pastor, or a missionary to seek your own emotional health. In my years of ministry, I have watched people who are paralyzed by unrecognized emotions. I see people fight losing battles while being outflanked on a secret front. They want to obey God, but something always causes them to stop short. What would happen if we took a pause to see what we’re really dealing with - unafraid and unashamed? If God is big enough for our salvation, He is big enough to handle the full brunt of our disappointment, our fear, our doubt, and our pain. God cannot get to our hearts when our plastic smiles are in the way.
By feeling my fear 100%, and bringing it all to God, I am more human and more godly that ever before. I am in touch with reality, and allowing God to touch my reality. I’m feeling so much more than excitement. I am feeling joy. It’s a deep, raw, satisfying joy. I’m not going to Portland because they need me. There are people that are much smarter and more talented than me all over that city. I’m not going to Portland because I love the city. The food carts and scenery are great, but I love my Georgia family more. I’m going to Portland because I love God, and He asked me to go. This is the sweetest truth I hold onto. I am so grateful for everyone who is rooting for us along the way.
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