Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Process of Processing

This last week and a half has been a trying, stretching and interesting one. A week ago last Friday I gave a sermon on Self-Justification (Galatians 2:17-21 was my text). I had to give a shortened version of that sermon today for another smaller group of women. Last Friday I lead worship for a group of 70 or so women and if anything in the A/V area could have gone wrong, it did. (Plus my guitar broke three days before, so I was using someone else’s). Then today my Administration and Leadership in the Church class had the results of a “Leadership 360” test I asked several people to evaluate me on. Fun.

Those are just the simple, logistical aspects of what I’ve experienced, never mind a dozen other little things like conflict with a logo I designed for a church ministry event, a tough meeting establishing rules for the church newsletter which I design, an major “ethical” decision I had to make regarding said newsletter, and all the church politics that go along with that. Needless to say, I’m feeling a little like I’m on sensory overload when it comes to the grey areas of my life.

Something I don’t take enough time to do in my life is process. When something tough, emotional or otherwise, hits me I usually have two reactions – fight or flight. I retreat when I am not sure about how to deal with a situation. I fight when I’ve had to time to think, understand and evaluate that has happened. Both reactions typically make me appear quite cold-hearted and detached from the world and from people. Sometimes I intend to be that way, most of the time I don’t. Every time it does happen, I have no desire to hurt those around me. But I do, and many times without even being aware of it. And it kills me knowing I’ve hurt someone in the process.

One major area of thought I’m experiencing right now is my identity in ministry. What is my role as the leader? How can I remain objective without appear cold-hearted? How can I love tough people well? How can I be friends with those I lead without being so emotionally involved that I can’t see the dysfunction or sin in their lives? These very large questions are just a couple floating around in my mind as I seek to understand how to lead well within the framework of who I’m already hard-wired to be. I feel as though I’m consistently fighting against what is natural to me (and the RightPath4 and RightPath6 leadership personality test more or less confirmed what I already knew about myself,) I am left wondering what I can do to get rid of these awful, nasty feelings of trying to do what I should vs. doing what comes naturally to me… and how to stop my natural instincts from overtaking in high-stress situations.

With so many thing flying around in my head and my heart, I feel as though I’m struggling to survive, much less think, process and understand everything I need to think, process and understand. (Much less find time.) The three classes I have this semester plus my internship are not tough intellectually, but they require a lot of time to fully understand and apply. That’s killing me right now, and it feels like there is no end in sight. So I’m left just standing in the messiness of my heart, my sin and my life, unable to be objective and probably being too hard on myself. My feelings of inadequacy are overwhelming everything, and any encouragement I get simply makes me feel undeserving. It feels like a loose-loose situation, and I’m drowning in a pool with the heaviest woool sweater I own on my back.

This is part of my processing, I realize. I’m just so completely unsure of what step to take next.

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