I remember the day I started this blog. I was sitting in our lounge room in Poatina on May 19 2010, and trying to find my bearings. I had worked with Fusion since 1992 and my Dad, the founder of the organization, had just stepped down from leadership. It was a difficult time but I had a real sense that God was inviting me to trust him and hold on for the ride. I wrote:
I have always been a bit suspicious of religious people and this blog is (hopefully) not going to be about religion.
For me faith is a living thing. It is a relationship that affects every part of life.
I wish it was always like that for me.. honestly its not.. but its what I want my life to be about.
I’m on a journey of learning.
Learning how to be a husband.
Learning how to be a father.
Learning how to be a leader
Learning how to be a golfer
Learning how to live Faith.
I really don’t have the answers, but I wonder whether it might be worth sharing some of my learning along the journey..
For a few years this blog helped keep me sane through some pretty big ups and downs. I never really shared the specifics but I used the blog to find my bearings. I wrote the things I was learning and the things I didn’t want to forget. There was a sense that despite things being often a bit crazy, I had my bearings.
Then I came to Canada, became a pastor, and ran out of words.
It wasn’t so much that I had nothing to say, it was that I was feeling completely disoriented. When I was in Australia, in Fusion, I kind of knew who I was and I had a picture of what life was about. Moving to a new country and a new role I have found that it has taken a couple of years to start to get my bearings again.
This weekend I will be preaching about finding your story. One of the quotes I will use on Sunday is from a Theologian I admire, Stanley Grenz, who wrote:
The personal narrative lies at the basis of a person’s sense of who he or she is. Consequently, finding ourselves means, among other things, finding the story in the context of which our lives make sense.
I am realizing that I have been through a process of having to re-order my personal story over the last few years. It has not been simple. Many things I thought I knew have been called into question, and many of the foundations of my identity have been challenged.
As I start to adjust to being called “Pastor Matt” (Canadians use titles a lot more than Aussies), I am seeing that while this process has been big for me it is certainly not unique. Almost everyone I talk to has been through moments of profound identity crisis.
For some people those crisis’ seemed to make them stronger, for others it seemed to make them more fragmented,but so far no-one I have talked to is ever left the same as they were before.
I’ve appreciated some of Andy Stanley’s writing (he is a pastor of a big church called North Point in the U.S.). He did some work to name the things that help to grow people’s faith, and he named those big life changing moments (which he called Pivotal Circumstances because live seems to pivot around them) as one of the keys to spiritual growth, but he also pointed out that those moments can also be the end of people’s faith – it all depends on the perspective with which you see the circumstance.
I think that I am only now at a point where I can perhaps begin to write again more regularly. I’m not the same person who sat down in May 2010 to start this blog, but the wrestle for faith with integrity is still very much at the core of what my life is about, and I hope that some of my reflections might be helpful for others who care about the same kinds of things.
My hope is to post a reflection most Fridays so stay tuned….