It Sucks To Get Laid Aside. The Hard Lesson Christians Don't Care About






Have you been laid aside? Have you basically been made to feel like you are not needed...truly? That who you are is of no use? I don’t mean that your sensibilities were hurt or wounded but I mean, YOU were not of use in a such a way you were no longer able to define your very self?

There is a spiritual practice known as “detachment” and it is rooted in Jesus’ teaching to “deny ourselves” found in the Gospels (see Mark 8:35). As a part of spiritual practices it is often glossed over in my estimation because we don’t really understand it nor do we want to, not really. It hurts our pride and sensibilities and maybe even our feelings of self-worth. God calls us to deny ourselves? I may need a safe-space to cope. And, we just might.

Why?

Because it is HARD, damn it!

Why don’t we just name it and quit playing games?!

I confess I have felt it for too long. I have had clergy point it out in me...both friends and those I’d call “enemies.” And they were right. But the more I “failed” at the work of being a pastor, the more and more I grew detached. And when my primary “job description” went from being “pastor” to the caregiver for my wife, yeah, I became detached. And when Heather died? I lost even that piece of identity.

Since then, I have tried to rebuild my “self” only to have it torn down again. I had to detach from pastoring so I could parent. I had to then detach from how I was parenting because I had only ever parented as part of a two-parent home. Now I was an only parent. I was truly forced into moving and returning to pastoring too soon...not by the Church but the institution of the church and learned to detach from my ideals. I joined the “working poor” and worked two jobs to try (and fail) to really provide for my family. I had “friends” disappear and had to detach. I have had “friends” take advantage of my grief and so detach.

But things are changing. I have had new friends appear and I’ve redefined and taken up this cross. I have had to change my parenting and let my kids fly the nest and take up the cross of being an “only parent” and learn to parent adult children...and MAKE them be adults. I have learned to pastor in new ways and abide in my wounds. I have learned to love again and discover new parts of me.

Learning to deny ourselves...learning the way of the cross, is like what Leonard Boase describes, it is “the clog that effectively hinders our putting God first [it] is our clinging to ourselves” (94, “Prayer of Faith”). Without having two ladies at home now, I don’t have to clean hair out of drains anymore but “UGH!” what a job sometimes...disgusting even! And so who wants to do that in our souls?

The Church has offered us numerous options in confession in Roman Catholicism, meditation forms, Ignatius’ “Examen,” the Bands of the early Methodists, accountability partners in modern Christianity. But they are not a one-time thing...our souls are often being “clogged” because we want stuff for ourselves...period. End of story.

But we are not invited by Jesus to get our way. You can choose to make that YOUR WAY in the Church but why bother? Just go do it outside the Church...it is a whole lot easier AND you can call it “Christianity” or “Spirituality” or whatever moniker you want....but it clearly ain’t the way of Jesus.

Jesus got the cross. Jesus got the DEATH PENALTY. Jesus got suffering and pain and denial. If I remember the Bible right, Peter wanted a vote all that and turn following Jesus into a “democratic process” (Matthew 16: 21-23) and Jesus would have none of it. Jesus took it as part of the deal, it seems, that even those who followed him would struggle with this issue of denying self and detachment.

It doesn’t come overnight. It does not seem, in my experience, in my study, in my time as a pastor and a spiritual director and in the valley of suck, we magically or miraculously come to deny ourselves. We can’t dictate how it will be for another either for we get there in our own way...if we choose to go there at all.

However, if you’re going to say you are a follower of Jesus and you’re ignoring
the image of Jesus on the cross - the crucifix - then I suspect you are like me and need to check out the clog. You can’t hide behind your ordination, certification, or nominations. This is why the road is narrow and valley sucks sometimes.


May I Ask? 
What is the thing usually clogging your faith journey up? When
was the last time you even looked? 





Want more insight?  Get Ken's book, "Life Sucks Seek God," on Amazon Kindle or in paperback at www.tinyurl.com/lifesucksseekGod 

3 comments:

Cynthia Harding said...

Wow. I've needed to hear this for a long time. You always hit the nail on the head. I really miss your sermons!

Ken Hagler said...

It is not a fun lesson to learn either. Thanks for your support and for reading!

Charles Hall said...

I miss you and your sermons. I was recently “laid aside”, my entire engineering group was eliminated on May 21. You help me find hope in things to come.

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