Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Affirmation and Doubt

Recently, in the past month or so, I have been struggling with doubt. Doubting myself in teaching our adult christian education class. I keep thinking people will figure out I'm full of *** and call my bluff. I wonder to myself if I am teaching what I am supposed to be teaching and if anyone cares overall. I am very careful to check myself periodically to make sure some narcissism isn't seeping in, and instead of it being about the spiritual journey - it becomes all about me. I am wary of that. I "know" its not about me, but my personal ego and self gratification sometimes get the best of me, so I try to remember to be gracious and humble whenever possible.
A couple of weeks ago, while doing our current study over the book "I'm Fine With God... It's Christians I Can't Stand" one of the members who attends about once every other month shows up. We are talking about whatever and she asks "Why do we care?". I'm kind of taken aback. Why do we care? Well hell, why do we care about anything? I wanted to say "well I guess in your case you don't care"... but I didn't. I tried in my best political voice to articulate why we should care, because Christians doing stupid stuff gives us all a bad name and leads people off-course on their spiritual journey.
And I went home kind of ticked off. Questions like "why bother" and "am I getting through to these casual christians" bounced inside my heart and head until I couldn't stand it. Maybe I'm off base and someone else needs to take over teaching.
Yep. I was Eeyore. Woe is me. But hey, it was my pity party.
Someone else taught for me this past Sunday as I was out of town and I met that person for breakfast this morning. He related to me that they had a general open discussion of our past class topics and people really opened up. They discussed how a certain book or study resonated with them and how all of the studies seemed to come together. They shared personal stories about growing up, dysfunction, church, and tied it back to each thing we have talked about over the last year or so. There was even a first time visitor who shared that he was a recovering addict and dealer who has been clean for the past two years.
Affirmation. A little message from God?
Yes, they have been listening. growing. discerning. connecting. trusting. It was good to hear that. Relieved my doubts about what we have been doing. That it does make a difference, and yes, the answer to "why do we care?" was answered.


Endlessly restless said...

Aye - sometimes it's really hard to feel that you're making any progress when you've been doing something over a lengthy period of time - especially in a Christian ministry. A bit of space is usually helpful, and we all need a bit of affirmation/encouragement to keep going.

KJ said...

Ahhh, you are SO telling my story. Pretty much every Sunday I leave feeling like I'm a big poser and the kids are bored and our hour together just wasted everyone's time. And then every once in a while, out-of-the-blue, a kid will say how much they love coming to church and youth. And how much their friends like it. Or a parent will relay something positive their kid said to them about church. A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine ( no kid in th youth) said, "You know you've changed lives, right." My typical response is to somehow minimize this. She interupted before I barely got started and said it again. "No, really. You have changed kids lives."

In my soul I can take that in as affirmation and feel the joy of doing what I'm supposed to be doing. God changes people's lives; we all know that. But God has always worked through people to bring change, transformation, awakening. I know God is real and takes personal interest in me because I feel protected in these moments...protected from myself. There are many times I feel a lot of pride and arrogance about my work with kids. "I'm good at it and I know it" kind of thing. I can be pretty territorial at times. But when I hear the words of my friend, I feel- in my soul- not pride, but but a sobering humility...Amazed that God would use me. That place is a gift of God's grace.