Vanessa and I once took ballroom dance lessons. It was fun. We learned the basic steps for the foxtrot and the waltz. I can still hear, “slow, slow, quick, quick,” and “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3…” in my head, and I can sort of remember how our feet are supposed to move, but I’ve really lost most of what we were taught. Part of the problem? We never actually went ballroom dancing. We just learned the steps.
I don’t feel like I was very good at ballroom dancing. I felt stiff when I moved. I felt like I was always searching for a rhythm and never quite finding it. I’m not sure if that means I have no rhythm, or I didn’t try long enough to discover I did.
Life for me right now feels a little like I’m trying to ballroom dance. It’s lacking rhythm. That’s one of the things change does for us–it throws off our rhythm, it breaks our routine. That’s a bad thing for me. I’m one who does best with a routine. I suppose I should be out-of-step just a little. Let’s see, moving to a new home, taking a new job, meeting new people. Yeah, there’s been just a little change recently. I need to cut myself some slack, right? I am. I’m not trying to be too hard on myself for being out-of-step, I’m just processing how uncomfortable it feels. I feel stiff. I feel like I’m searching for rhythm. I feel like I did when I was learning how to ballroom dance.
I remember feeling the same way two years ago when I left the local congregation to become District Superintendent. Now, there’s a job with no rhythm to it. The travel demands make it difficult to cultivate a routine that is stable enough to call a routine. Eventually, though, the routine of no routine became easier to manage, and there was some rhythm that flowed from the job (even if it was just the rhythm of always packing the suitcase–I actually got pretty good at throwing things in a suitcase). It just took time.
It’s amazing how easily we get out of the habit of doing things. It’s amazing how hard it is to get back in the habit again. When a guy is accustomed to writing sermons week in and week out, it comes easier. When you haven’t written a weekly sermon for two years, you get out of the habit. Yeah, I’ve written sermons, but not weekly. I thought writing a blog would help to keep that routine in check. It’s not the same. I did discover that blogging gave me a new routine, but blogging is not sermon writing. Honestly, you really don’t have to do much exegesis to write a blog. You can’t write a sermon without exegesis. Well, you can, but it’s not much of a sermon. (I suppose someone might be wondering what “exegesis” is? It’s a Greek word literally meaning “to draw or lead out of,” and practically means “critical analysis and interpretation of a text, particularly a religious text.” There’s your word study for the day. Now employ exegesis in a sentence.)
There’s a big difference in reading the Bible devotionally and reading the Bible critically. I’ve read the Bible devotionally (almost daily) for the past two years. Critically, not so much. Sermon preparation and weekly Bible study preparation keeps the critical skills honed. Though I have written a few sermons over the past two years, I’ve not prepared one Bible study. I’ve got to reengage those critical skills again. I’m actually expected to lead a Bible study in church. Can you believe that? I’ve got to re-discover the dance, the routine, the rhythm of that kind of study and preparation. I really am out of the habit. Should I be confessing that?
Okay, here’s another confession. I’ve been pastor for a week now. I’ve found myself sitting at my desk asking myself the question: What am I supposed to be doing? I know I’m supposed to be doing something, but I haven’t quite figured out what it is. I know it’s because I’m searching for that rhythm. I know it will come. It just takes time. And practice. Like ballroom dancing. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Yes, I was much better when we completed the lessons than when we started. I actually felt like I could learn these new dances, that I really could, given enough time, be graceful, be light on my feet.
I’m also reminding myself that the staff, the congregation, and even Vanessa and my family, are all learning a few new steps, too. The staff and the congregation are learning how to dance with me as I’m learning how to dance with them. Vanessa and my family have me as their pastor again. That’s a reclamation of an old role, but it’s a new dance for them. So, we’re all searching for that new rhythm. We’re all learning a few new steps. We’ll misstep along the way, but eventually, it’ll click. We’ll get in step and the result will be beautiful. It will be a graceful dance that will have eternal implications.
So, strike up the band! Let’s dance!
Until next time, keep looking up…