It’s September, which for all practical purposes means the Fall season is here. School is back in session, football is going on, and my life becomes more hectic, yet more structured with programing of work and organizations I work with. It also tends to be the time I reflect back the most. I usually will start something new during this time of year as opposed to the beginning of the calendar year. I suppose that has something to do with 21 years of school. My mind still runs on an academic year clock!
I started to remember today that it was a year ago this week I made a huge, life-changing decision. I enrolled in a program to improve my health. I didn’t know if I could do it or if it would work. All I knew was that I had to do something. In hindsight, I made a lot of good decisions for support. I told my plans to people at church, my friends, and used social media as a form of accountability. I’d like to say I did all that intentionally, but it just kind of happened to work out.
In the first 7 months I did achieve my goal of getting healthier. I lost about 85 pounds and no longer have to be treated for Type-2 Diabetes. This summer was rough, and I’ve gained 15 pounds back, but am working towards another weight-loss push starting again in September.
Most of all, I learned what transformation was all about. To be truly transformed, you have to be willing to lay it all out there. A word I use a lot in ministry is “vulnerability.” You have to be vulnerable to be transformed. In the process of transformation, you are admitting you need change, and there is nothing you can do about with making difficult decisions and commitments. In the process of becoming healthier, I also went through the final steps of becoming ordained. Working on physical transformation caused me to realize the transformative processes that are missing from our spiritual and institutional church lives.
Too often we hold on to what is “comfortable” or “familiar” to us, and leave out any possibility of transformation. We aren’t willing to tell people around us that we don’t have it all figured out, and could use support to make the changes we need. The church should be that place that we can be open about things like that. The church should be a place we can be our most vulnerable and not fear what the repercussions might be.
Unfortunately, the community of the church is often worried about survival and preservation. That’s not to say that there aren’t churches doing transformative things, but clearly not enough are doing what is needed with the decline of church attendance across the board. There’s a need for community where we can be vulnerable and struggle together. If there wasn’t, websites like Postsecret wouldn’t be so popular. Social Media wouldn’t be so full of people sharing what can be considered “too much” if we had better mechanisms in our community.
We need to be a community of support within the church, and offer an environment that births transformation in people and institutions. How can we do it? I think it takes a few people taking the risk of laying themselves out there. The risk is it may not work, but Jesus did it time and time again. Sure he ended up losing his life, but I think we are losing a lot more by not trying.
Grace & Peace,