Having what it takes
With one week of school under our belts, and my summer vacation officially over, I feel it's time to talk frankly about some of the not-so-great moments of Summer, 2015. True, we've had one big blessing after another...graduations, a wedding, vacation, bike rides, a new kitten...to name a few. I think my end-of-the-summer Facebook post used the words: "blessed beyond measure." And while that is very true and there are many positives to remember, I feel that's it's time to just put this out there: we've had our share of trials. Our summer has been like a bed of roses...full of wonder and beauty, but not without thorns.
Some of you know that my husband, Tom, is currently in a leadership role at our church. This is a volunteer position, one he truly felt was God's call to him when he accepted. He did not accept the position flippantly, or with any prideful feelings. I can assure you...he asked me many times if I thought he really "had what it takes" to be the kind of person an "elder" and a "council president" was before accepting these roles. I assured him he was; that others wouldn't have looked to him if they felt he didn't "have what it takes."
Now, you must know a little about my husband's personality before I go on. He doesn't like conflict. His occupation includes descriptions like problem solver, computer guy, math-brain (yep, I married one of those lovable geeks). He works all day with machines and code and numbers (and lots of other computer-y stuff I don't understand)...oh, and a few people. When we were first married, it took him a little while to learn that when I had problem, a bad day, or a bone to pick with him, I was not really looking for a solution. I was usually just looking for a hug or a shoulder to cry on. That's my guy...the problem solver.
Little did he know when he took on his role at church that he was going to have some really bigproblems to solve. Little did he realize that these problems were going to involve not only finding solutions, but dealing with lots of people, each more than willing to give their opinions of what "the solutions" were to their perception of "the problems." Little did we expect that he would find himself giving up more than five vacation days at work due to time spent on church stuff, that he would have to start taking "Tylenol PM" so he could sleep at night, and that his summer bike rides would be less about exercise and more about letting off steam or talking things out with me to help clear his mind.
I have had to remind him all summer...at our daughter's graduation, before our son's wedding, on college move-in day, and in countless other big and small events...to be present in the moment with us. With his phone in his pocket, he is always just a buzz away from another email that threatens to take him out of "our moments" and back into the problems of the church.
He is constantly asking himself why God would put him in this position and what he is supposed to be learning from all of this. We have discussed whether he really does "have what it takes" to continue, and on more than one occasion (eh-hem...almost daily as of late), we have pondered him stepping down from his role. There comes a point, I guess, when the frustrations, the lost sleep, the inability to do his job at work, and the stolen moments from joyful family times, just don't seem worth whatever solutions he's been striving for.
And yet. And yet...I do still believe that God put him in this role, this year, for two reasons. Reason one: Tom does "have what it takes." He loves our church. He has not taken one decision, email or conversation lightly throughout this whole ordeal. He prays, consults others, and takes his time before he speaks his mind. His leadership has not been without fault (and he's the first to admit it), but it has truly been a labor of love for the church we've called home for 28 years.
And reason two: Tom doesn't "have what it takes." Because what it takes to bring people together, to break down walls and barriers, and to heal brokenness...takes much more than human desire, ambition and problem-solving. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit, the grace of Jesus, and the will of the heavenly Father. I think we're learning these truths step by step, email by email, and moment by moment. Over the past six months, Tom has been given new skills and abilities he never knew he was capable of. And we're learning everyday, more and more, to give it up to God.
I believe God gives us each unique gifts. He expects us and calls on us, to use them.
I also believe God gives us challenges beyond our gifts. And that's when he wants us to call on Him.
Note: I'm a little nervous about hitting the "publish" button on this one. I'm not only putting my heart out there, but Tom's as well. We both appreciate your prayers for our church and its leadership as we continue to work through this transition time.