What do you do when you wake up one day and realize that you are not the person that you want to be, that you have somehow gotten off track, diverted in some way? That suddenly the things you are known for are not necessarily the things you would have chosen for yourself? This is where I have been the last few months.
It is like I am standing at an intersection in a tunnel, not entirely sure where I am or how I have gotten here. What turns did I take? Which ones should I have taken? Can I go back and take them now? Of course I can’t do that so I look forward down this labyrinth that I have gotten myself into, but that doesn’t offer much clarity either. Just more dark corridors, no clear direction to move toward.
It has been nearly two years since I stepped away from ministry. Almost 730 days since I left this thing that dictated so much of my life, so much of my worth, so much of my purpose. In some ways, it was my prison. I tried so hard to do it right, to be the best I could be at it, looking to it for validation. And that is a terrible amount of pressure to put on something; perpetually chasing its approval, failing to ever truly get it.
That is a dark place for the human soul to be in. Looking at this thing that you thought was your destiny or your purpose, realizing that you built it up to be more than it ever was or was meant to be.
That is when disillusionment sets in. I gave this thing my all, every piece of who I am, and what do I have to show for it? Don’t mistake me, I was good at ministry, but ministry and I had a very unhealthy relationship.
When I stepped down, it felt like freedom at first. It felt like getting out of any unhealthy relationship, a chance to start over, a clean slate. “This is my chance to live life on my terms.” And I did. But after a while, I began to miss the comfort of the familiar. Like a man going through withdraws, I began making rash and illogical decisions. I no longer had the affirmation that I was doing something well. And I needed that affirmation.
I needed something to tell me I was worthy, that I was important. It was a drug. An itch that needed to be scratched. And little by little, I did whatever was necessary to scratch it.
I started to see descriptions of me go from being the respectable, trustworthy, hard- working guy to being how sarcastic I was, how violent I am, how much I indulged in alcohol. And they aren’t wrong. I am violent, I am sarcastic, and I can drink with the best of them. I used whatever means necessary to find comfort, to find validation. That usually involved copious amounts of alcohol and whoever was unfortunate enough to get caught in my wake. Decisions have consequences.
I do not like the man I see in the mirror right now. That is not to say that he is a bad man, but he is not a strong man. He is a man deeply affected by his emotions, on a constant roller coaster of highs and lows. He is desperate. I do not like the amount of people I have hurt.
Good people that trusted me only to end up manipulated and used. I do not like the way I live by my own standards and try to justify that my faith fits into it all. I do not like how weak I feel. I back down the moment it gets hard. At some point I gave into a victim mentality and started letting life happen to me as opposed to living it intentionally.
I was a fighter once. I would plant my feet and take on whatever came at me. I never really went looking for a fight, but if something or someone tried to move me in a direction I didn’t want to go, I stood my ground. I took it on the chin, but I didn’t cave. I have lost that about me. Somewhere in this maze, somewhere in my addiction to this drug, it became about what was fast and easy, not what was fulfilling or right or true.
I am a protector by nature, but somewhere in the midst of all of this I stopped protecting myself. Or maybe I started protecting myself too much.
So where do I go from here? I think it is time to reevaluate what I want and how do I go about getting to that point? And that means taking some time to take hard, honest looks at myself. I suppose it is time to get out of here, pick one of these roads and go for it.
It looks like there is a bit of light down that way. I think I’ll take that one.