i've recently begun corresponding with David* who found my web page via a Google search. A few days ago he sent me an interesting reply to a question i had about what to watch out for while cultivating a Christian community that evolves organically.
His response hit very close to home. After much reflection i've come to the conclusion that much of what will hinder the community is my own control issues combined with an irrational fear. While many people may fear failure, i see it as a necessary stepping stone to growth. Failure should not be avoided but learned from as it remains part of the journey. i love biographies of famous people as you hear of their journey through failure. Most of them failed miserably many times before they entered their success. My irrational fear is not of failure but of Success.
Let me give you some back story on this whole thing. Two years ago i hit the wall, had a break down or whatever you call it. i was overworked, stressed out, juggling too many things at once, and in a major depression. i put in 80-90 hour work weeks for over nine months. It got so bad that in the early evenings i'd fold the back seat down in my car so i could put my feet in the trunk and sleep for about an hour and a half. i only slept 4.5 hours a day at this point.
i'd leave home in the morning when my wife was fast asleep and return home to climb in bed several hours after she had gone to sleep. Eventually, we did not know each other anymore. We were both in great pain and only hurting each other by our actions. They cycle seemed to never stop. We never discussed getting a divorce but the option remained just around the corner. i felt trapped, alone, rejected, and desperate for something to prove to me that i was alive at all. While my emotional sickness raged on, i continued to project an image of confidence and ability in my business life.
Then it all came crashing down. i felt such shame as i shirked all responsibilities and imploded emotionally and physically. i spent the next month in bed sleeping 16 hours a day. i died!
Rebirth/recovery exists as a daily process of surrender to the healing of Christ. I was not going to look for a pastorate again, i need to heal and grow. During that time my wife lost her job and continued her own recovery from deep woundedness. We took a year off from work to date, talk and rebuild our relationship with each other and friends that we had let fall away. We entered a year of jubilee and got to know one another again. Our marriage has grown stronger than it has ever been. It's not perfect, we still have a lot to work on but we are united again.
This is where my irrational fear steps in. If i become successful in the future, will that tear us apart? Will i burry myself in my work and start the erosion process all over again? In practical experience this remains an unknown. Rationally i understand that my mental makeup has changed for the better. i project no image, i can say "no", my faith has grown stronger than ever, and i have become a whole person. Cheryl and i remain committed to not letting our relationship slip yet I wrestle with this irrational fear that success will pull me back into my old patterns of work. Hello, my name is Darren and i'm a workaholic.
i've been driven to succeed my whole life. Prior to my crash i lived an ambitions, careless, deceitful, self-willed, narcisistic and insolent life. Yet i have never equated success with money, power or fame. Helping people to achieve their dreams and live better lives defines what i call success. Ironically, i spent time and energy helping others and neglected the very things that kept me healthy. What a wicked self deception i walked through. This may be a common pastoral problem. In writing this post i've come to see that i do not fear success itself but am unsure of how i would handle it. Only time will tell.
You see, i'm a broken person with a daily need of inner healing. Only God can do this. So . . . i'm not "super human" nor do i have it all-together, i am simply a man struggling with his Christian identity and its integration into his being. Holistic personhood is around the corner in Christ but it remains a long battle to win. i must daily walk with Christ and die to myself.
*= Name Changed