"Write a blog"
I put that on a to-do list today. I'm making to-do lists now. This is not a development that I saw coming, but it's been a necessary step to take in getting work done.
Writing has been hard to come by in the last month for me. I'd like to say that it's because I'm busy with my new job as a youth minister. I am busy, but the majority of my nights are free. And the words haven't been there. I have felt their absence. That creative spark is an animating presence in my life, but it has been a smoldering ember for several weeks now.
I can readily identify my problem. I feel incredibly fractured right now. With my family still in the Upstate, my heart is between Nashville and Spartanburg. This too shall pass but it all feels strange and, honestly, quite lonely. I feel like I'm watching my present, unfamiliar life from a distance sometimes. I feel like waves of energy that are bouncing back and forth between two timezones. Thus most of what I have sat down to write feels hollow, robotic.
But it is what it is. Bemoaning is not going to change a thing. The move to Nashville has been good. It is where we need to be. December will come and bring my family with it. But in the meantime, I am faced with this armful of questions. How do I make the most of right now? How do I avoid just looking toward the future and thus burn a month and a half of time? How does that creative spark begin to once again glow? How can I not feel disembodied?
(Spoiler alert: It's God. It's almost always God.)
Lately, in those times when I have felt overwhelmed, I have left my office, walked downstairs and down a hall to our church's sanctuary. I'll climb up to the balcony, go to the very back row, and sit there. Sometimes I will pray and ramble out loud to God. And sometimes I will just sit there in the silence and stare at the stained-glass cross ahead of me.
And I feel I drop of peace. A chunk of my heart will be in South Carolina until my wife and sons join me here. But in that sanctuary, in that moment, I feel like my soul stops phasing in and out of existence. It feels like my essence is grounded to and connected with the God in whom I live and move and have my being.
It doesn't fix everything. It annoys me so much when people suggest time with God fixes everything. There's still the sometimes aching loneliness that comes from being away from my family. There's still the awkwardness of being new in town and the intimidation that comes with starting a job. That time in the sanctuary does not fix everything. I still need community and all of that. But you know what? It makes a difference. I feel like I walk away closer to who I actually am.
I trip up when I respond to the jittery unease of my new world by distracting myself. From a distance it's counterintuitive. Yet I think it's a fairly common reaction. I respond to feeling detached by bouncing from video games to Twitter to checking email to freaking out over the news. Maybe if I can vibrate my mind from one place to another fast enough then it will numb me to whatever bothers me. But it ends up just making me feel more disembodied.
So this is what I need to learn and re-learn: I have to slow down, be present, and re-center myself on God. And I have to do this even when I am not in the church where I serve. God does not simply dwell in the quiet space lit by a stained-glass window. All the earth can be a sanctuary. I simply must stop and recognize that reality. I know this, but I need help remembering this. And if I remember then I believe it will make a difference.