I’ve spent the last 15 months or more in some form of spiritual depression. I don’t know how else to describe it. My spirit had been extremely hard-pressed through a series of mistakes, missteps, attacks & ministry disasters. I stepped away from the pulpit, moved my wife & son back home, & avoided anything that resembled engaged ministry. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have lead worship or sought any accountability if I simply didn’t enjoy singing & love the men that God has placed in my life to hold me up, lift me up & beat me up. [It takes all three for righteous accountability… especially if God gives you me for a dance partner.]
So a tip of the cap to Ridgecrest Bapt.’s Exalt Team for pressing me to sing along with them a couple of times last year. It helped me clean out some clogged spiritual arteries. I believe the words we sang, & needed to let them out at the top of lungs. A nod also must go to my pastor at New Horizon Church, Dave Bowman. He pursued me, grounded my emotions, & patiently helped me sort through the garbled mess of personal responsibility, unfortunate circumstance, issues of disobedience, & the byproducts of divorcing that season of ministry. I could not have walked through this without that consistency. And above all other people & ministries, my heart & spirit have been protected & propelled by my sweet wife, Grace. She knows how important she is to me, but if two people read this, one of you is bound to berate me for not extolling her virtues & my gratitude, so here goes: she has been patient, compassionate, & wise. She has delicately balanced fighting for me & fighting against my wayward tendencies. She has frankly, had to lead. That admission is gut-wrenching & awful, but it is true nonetheless. I’ve taken that mantle back, & again she has humbly relented, & the state of our marriage & family is as strong as it has ever been. She deserves so much credit for her faithfulness, patience, & unwavering love for me & our union in Christ. My wife is awesome. I love her.
And now, through a series of unexpected, blessed events, I am being reminded of the ‘joy set before me’. Church excites me again, & I think that God has given our family a really cool, thoughtful church to worship at & engage in community with. The group of men that I meet with on Wednesday mornings are honest, faithful men who encourage me back toward my passion for life-on-life discipleship & accountability. And working at Chick-Fil-A in Durham [Roxboro Rd. site] is going to be great. They have a faithful, focused business model & I have loved meeting with Matt & Tony [GM & Owner], hearing their heart for people, Durham, obedience & the development of themselves & their employees.
I spent an hour this past week visiting my Aunt Marie. She had just had surgery to remove a brain tumor & is recovering at Duke. Groggy, exhausted, & certainly uncomfortable, she was so welcoming & warm when I walked in. And I was struck by the one phrase that she kept repeating. ‘I’m just so grateful.’ She would pause, smile at me, readjust to try to find some additional comfort on that awful plastic bed, & say ‘I’m just so grateful.’
It was inspiring. She mentioned her family, her health of all things, her granddaughter, my parents & sister, her nurse that was rubbing her feet with lotion, the doctors… she went on & on about all things gratitude-worthy. She either couldn’t or didn’t want to verbalize much of anything else. And I loved it. The only other thing she brought up was the one thing that is apparently required to discuss in any conversation with me: Parker, my son. I’m used ot it now, & he is a pretty great kid.
But the thought that has gripped me this week is this: do I express gratitude to & for the things that I am most grateful? Think about it. And expressions aren’t required to be verbal. Churchgoers can volunteer, serve, & sacrificially give gratitude. Husbands can hug & kiss their wives & kids, knock out some chores, & go on a date. Sons can clean. Employees can do that little extra that goes unpromoted but ever-appreciated.
Admittedly, however, I’m wildly verbal. And I have thoroughly enjoyed expressing gratitude this week. Give it a try. Let me know how it works out for you. And don’t look for responses. Act in gratitude towards those that you’re grateful for. And let that be all the reaction that you need.