The Worst Year of My Life and at the Same Time the Best Year of My Life
As this year closes out I like most other’s I start reflecting on the past 12 months. I imagine as we get older we reflect a lot harder and deeper. As I ponder on that thought I guess our lives have so much more meaning or at least we want to believe that.
In 2012 I turned 60 years of age; I struggled with this changing of the decades in my life on so many levels. I worried that my youthfulness would just disappear, I worried that the end of my life is closer as I read the papers of so many men and women my age dying, not to mention my old high school friends that have passed away, and my brother in law Mike who I’ve known more than 45 years passed away. I worried about my life and what I would leave behind for my family, friends, and loved ones, not as in material things but knowledge, wisdom and experiences from my life that I can teach my sons and daughters.
Funny I have lived most of my life for myself, pleasing me, doing what I want, and making myself happy. On the outside people saw something different (the last 25 years) and I built on that, creating a “life” around me that made me look good, while the on the inside I was disgusting, selfish, self-centered and full of pride!
In 2012 my life came tumbling down, everything that I’ve done, worked for, loved was lost. My position as the lead pastor of NHCC that I held for over 11 years crumbled right before my eyes. The respect of men and women whose lives I was involved in on just about every level one could think of was crushed. My marriage was ripped apart at the seams with a feeling of no hope and it being over. The woman I was married to was crushed hurt, damaged, bruised, and broken beyond anything I had ever imagined. My children who loved and adored me found themselves questioning everything, the life they knew was ripped from them, the father that they loved and adored was shattered, their spirits crushed. My grandchildren even questioned who I was and what I was.
In my community that I lived for over 17 years I was a well known man – now a man of disgrace, a liar, a deceitful man and one not to be trusted. A black mark on the community that I loved, the church that I loved and so many people that I loved.
I have been stripped down to nothing, my pride has been broken, my life has become an open book for the most part, all my sin, secrets, thoughts have been exposed for the world to see. I can hardly bear to see anyone that I knew from the church or community that knew me as “pastor” the shame is still so great and heavy on me.
I can’t even begin to speak of the pain of this in my life. I was not playing a game with the church or people, I loved being pastor, I knew that God called me to this place and to the people I was involved in. I was so blinded and so tangled in “self” that I didn’t really see or realize what was taking place in my life. I knew it but didn’t see it. I know that is hard to understand but that is the way it was for me.
Unless someone has gone through things they really don’t get it and I’ve learned this lesson in my life. It’s a good thing for me to learn for the future as I interact with people. It’s a good thing to learn as I go through this, it helps me not be judgmental on the way people treat me. I’m told by some “it’s your own doing” and man that is true! I will never deny that or try to hide that, I did it all. But even in that the brokenness, the hurt, the pain is still real. For months I did all I could do just to breathe, to take the next step. Some will never understand that process and it really doesn’t matter for the most part. BUT, in the scheme of life it does matter and I will forever be changed by it and forever will try to teach this. The truth is; man is so good at being “God” in human situations, in human brokenness, in human fragility, in the act of sin and dysfunction. Jesus shows and teaches “unconditional love” in ALL THINGS with ALL people, does not matter the circumstance. The ONLY time Jesus would condemn would be to the one with a hardened heart and one who refused to change, break, and repent. A lesson the people of God need to learn. I know I have, I know I will never be the same again when it comes to people messing up, falling down, falling into sin, etc.
All of this has led this year, 2012, to be the best year of my life!!
…….to be continued