Monday, November 8, 2010

Sustained but not sustainable

I have a dear friend who lives a very rich and full life who, when asked how she is doing, will sometimes say, "Sustained." It's not an overly precious answer. It's an honest assessment of how she lives her life and how she feels at that moment.

If you asked me right now how I am doing, I would take a page from Shawn's book and say, "Sustained," with deep gratitude. I feel sustained by a Source beyond myself, a stream of living water, a waterfall of abundant life.

When I look at what's going on--a deep commitment to Boo and being her mom, four trips to Houston in three weeks, including 3 three-day retreats, a full counseling practice that doesn't go away just because I'm out of town, curriculum to write and notebooks to finish, billing that isn't going to do itself, a growing group of young adults to teach and love and lead in missional community, an upcoming trip to Guatemala--I can feel an immediate wash of exhaustion and a rising sense of panic. However, when I ask myself in any given moment, "How am I doing right now?" the answer has so far always been "I'm doing really well. I'm feeling fully alive and grateful and awake. I have everything I need . . . for right now."

I'm really happy that I've learned more over the last few years about how to live in the now. "Be here, be now" has been my mantra for awhile now and I'm learning to live into it and the peace it brings.

On the other hand, I also know . . . I am sustained but this is not sustainable. Pray for me as I figure that part out. Bill Hybels said, "I am doing the work of God in the world at a pace that is destroying the work of God in my life." That is a very real and present danger. At the same time, that's not my current reality. Pray for me as I figure out how to say yes to God and no to all the other good ideas. Pray for me as I learn to step courageously into this life without settling for well-meaning busyness.

Life is really good right now . . .


Robert said...

In The Contemplative Pastor, Eugene Peterson says,
"The one piece of mail certain to go unread into my wastebasket is the letter addressed to the “busy pastor.” Not that the phrase doesn’t describe me at times, but I refuse to give my attention to someone who encourages what is worst in me.

I’m not arguing the accuracy of the adjective; I am, though, contesting the way it’s used to flatter and express sympathy.

'The poor man,' we say. 'He’s so devoted to his flock; the work is endless, and he sacrifices himself so unstintingly.' But the word busy is the symptom not of commitment but of betrayal. It is not devotion but defection. The adjective busy set as a modifier to pastor should sound to our ears like adulterous to characterize a wife or embezzling to describe a banker. It is an outrageous scandal, a blasphemous affront."

That usually makes me feel guilty enough to slow down for a while.


Janet said...

Praying. Your thoughts make me think of that line of poetry by Alla Renee Bozarth that stopped me this week:... "So be awake to the life that is loving you"...