Around the Sun We Go

When you read this, I will have already begun my 39th trip around the sun.
39. That just means I’m one year away from 40 — which feels so… foreign.
How could I’ve let this happen…?

As is the tradition for this blog, here is my birthday post about the year that was.
Talk about twist-endings.
I now find myself navigating through a different tradition and another ordination process, no longer as a Methodist.

Few people have asked what’s been some of the differences between being an Episcopalian and a Methodist. The biggest thing is that now, as an Episcopalian, I know more words that I don’t know how to pronounce correctly.
Some of the smaller, minor things are different and there are moments where I’m like, oh yea, that’s right — I’m an Episcopalian now. Like wine for the Eucharist and people drinking from the same cup. On the flip side, my son loves communion even more now. He loves the wine, but more than that — he loves drinking from the cup. (I can picture a few Episcopalians angrily thinking, it’s called a CHALICE!)
But the bigger picture things are not that different.
Still in ministry.
Still serving God by serving the community.
Still making disciples for Christ.
Still hitting them corners in them lo-lo’s girl.
Still taking my time to perfect the beat and I
Still got love for the streets, it’s the D-R-E.

Seriously though, think of it as an NBA player leaving the New York Knickerbockers and signing with the Los Angeles Clippers. Still playing basketball, just for a different team/organization.

In all my retrospect-ing and hindsight-ing, I can think of 3 significant things that led to where I am today.

The seeds that ultimately grew to be the Episcopalian flower started with the post-Harvey season.
That was when the nagging doubts and suspicions I’ve had for a while were confirmed as reality: I didn’t really fit in this culture and I had no idea what I was supposed to do about it. I couldn’t reconcile what we were saying to what we were doing and I was left a bit perplexed on how I needed to move forward.

Which led to the (proverbial) trench I found myself in (and one I dug) come Spring/Summer of 2018 (significant event numero dos).
I skipped work on a staff meeting day — called in sick.
I gave myself a mental health day (I know, so millennial).
I drove to the Heights in hopes that I wouldn’t run into anyone I’d know, almost got into a bad car accident (that would’ve been 100% my fault), and wrote a resignation letter.

Of course I knew how silly and (over)dramatic I was being. If anything, seeing my thoughts on screen and no longer just in my head proved to be cathartic and therapeutic. Likewise, seeing the thoughts on screen really made me see how stupid I was being. Being snapped back to reality (oh, there goes gravity), I came to my senses and I felt… grounded.
The following week, I walked into my senior pastor’s office and unloaded all the angst I’ve had since post-Harvey season. He was (and always has been) so gracious. I assured him that it’s all behind me — it’s out of my system and I’m all-in until I get a call from the Mothership. And I meant it.

The final significant event — the nail in the coffin, if you will — was my reluctance to go where the Cabinet was sending me.

Do I wish that things had played out differently? In the words of Steve Austin, Give me a ‘hell yeah!’
But I don’t regret for a second how things turned out.
I can’t say, with absolute certainty, if this was God’s intention all along — that the purpose of me relocating to another state was to relocate to another faith tradition. What I can say, for certain, is that God was with me and surrounded me with people who walked with me through that season.

I’m ever so grateful of how things played out. Regrets, I almost have none.
There is one thing I wish I did differently.

Someone once told me, “You cannot chose how one makes you feel. However, you can choose how you react.”
The choices I made in between those 3 significant events were the wrong ones.
In moments of complete honesty with myself — I know that somewhere along the way, I gave in.
This is how it’s always going to be. Que sera sera.
Maybe my ego is still trying to protect me from saying, “I gave up.”
I didn’t know what to fight, who to fight, nor how to fight.

This one time in college, I thought I was showing up to the KSA (Korean Student Association) meeting. I sat right in the middle of the room, in the middle of the row (which I rarely did and, now, never do). Well, the KSA had changed rooms for their meeting and I never got the notice. I found myself smack dab in the midst of a campus ministry worship service. By the time I found out that I had made a grave mistake, I felt it was too late (and too rude) to walk out. So I reluctantly stuck with it.
“I reluctantly stuck with it” could very well sum up my feelings for a good chunk of the season that was, unfortunately.
I stuck with it until I became unstuck. Not just to the church, but also to the entire Mothership.
I regret the way I decided to play the hand I was dealt.
I should’ve kept pushing.
I should’ve kept fighting.
I should’ve kept searching to build upon the good things.
I should’ve kept my mind on things that were praiseworthy.
Should’ve. Would’ve. Could’ve.
But I didn’t.
I woefully regret that. That’s the one thing I wish I did differently.
Because the church; the people; myself; God deserved something better than that.
And that’s the thing. I absolutely loved the people I was surrounded with.
Those Wednesday evening bible studies that we had — it was a life-giver. I’m certain I looked forward to Wednesday nights more than the college boys that showed up.

I don’t know how to feel about Kevin Durant as a person (I know how to feel about him as a player).
But you know what — I hate that his leaving OKC and then Golden State resonated with me so deeply. I sort of knew how he felt — minus the once-in-a-generation talent and the millions (and millions*) of dollars.
Restlessness can lead to discontentment and discontentment taints everything it touches.

I’m currently writing this at Camp Allen (which has been home away from home since July ‘19) during my first Clergy Conference.
It’s much more intimate as there are less clergy in the diocese compared to the amount of clergy in the Texas Annual Conference.
Here’s a snarky truth though, there’s not too much difference in that I traded in one group of old white men for a different group of old white men. (Hashtag Facts)

For whatever reason, this week at Camp Allen finally feels like everything has been settled. I feel — well, settled.
This is my new tribe that I have the privilege to journey together with.
(Oh, what’s not different? Clergy are just some weird folks — all across the board, man.)
And I know that everything is settled because I have nothing but gratitude for the journey that was. There’s no more heaviness that gently tugs at my soul when thinking about the past year. I’m no longer carrying the weight of the past season. Just the usual nerves and anxiety about the future.

I’ve always felt that in order to move forward, one must acknowledge their past and honor it — the good, the bad, and the ugly. It closes the door on the life that was so that a new one can open. It also serves as a way for us to avoid the same pitfalls and mistakes that brought such pain, angst, and suffering.

I am sincerely grateful for the year 38, with all of its twists and turns.
I’m grateful for the people who’ve allowed me to be part of their journey.
I’m grateful for opportunities of old and of new.
I’m grateful for seasons ending and seasons beginning.
In the words of the Monkees: To everything, turn, turn, turn**.

But that was 38.
Now it’s 39.
The slate is as clean as it has ever been.
With God’s help, I hope to live out my faith in a meaningful and impactful manner. And I intend to cause as much (holy) mischief as I possibly can.

*


** I know it wasn’t the Monkees. The Beatles, right?

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