People have asked me what are the big “take aways” from this time of transition in my life. While sometimes finding purpose, meaning and reasons in the affairs of life is hard to actually figure out (those times when it’s hard to identify what exactly I’m “supposed” to learn in light of my circumstances because it’s not because of something I did…) let me share a few thoughts about what I have learned (or re-learned) over the next few blog posts as I’ve spent much time pondering during this season of my life.
Identity. I remember learning a prayer of recollection from John Coe. The idea of recollection is not to recall (to bring to memory), but rather to be re-collected. It assumes that the complexity and busyness of modern life leaves us fragmented and compartmentalized in our spiritual life. To re-collect ourselves is to remember and re-place ourselves under the gospel as the good news of Christ offers us the hope of unifying ourselves. I can’t tell you how often I’ve felt out of control with my heart all over the place. The re-collection that comes through the gospel is the offer of finding the coherence to our lives that is so crucial.
In the prayer of recollection, I enter into an honest dialogue with God. My friend, Kyle Strobel, calls this a soliloquy – “a method of prayer whereby you speak to both God and your own soul as you hold [your identity] before Him” This is a way that we preach the gospel to ourselves. In my dialogue with God I re-collect myself by remembering that because of the gospel I am not first and foremost a pastor, a father, a husband, my parents’ son, and the list goes on. I certainly am those things but they are not my core identity. They do not define me for at the heart of the gospel is a change in my identity. I am valued not for what I do or the roles I play in people’s lives. Rather I am valued by God simply for who I am and it’s the cross of Christ that demonstrates this.
Early on and most every day I would remind myself in a prayer-like soliloquy to God that my value to Him was not because of my job. I could lose it and there could still remain a stability, a grounding in life. This is why we have been so adamant in college/young adult ministry to get at this idea of identity. It’s not telling yourself in a Stuart Smalley kind of way, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” Rather it’s a re-affirmation of entirely good news that the basis of my acceptance and transfer into God’s Kingdom is because He calls me something completely different than what people have called me throughout my life. It’s in this way that one is re-collected… pulled back together into a coherent whole person.