Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hiding

I am on a family leave of absence from serving as a pastor in the United Methodist Church. I asked for this leave to address issues in myself that were hurting my self, my family, and my ministry. I am in my ninth month of leave at this point. I foresee being on leave for at least another twelve months.

I am glad to say that I am doing much better, and my wife and two boys are doing better too for the efforts Tammy and I both are putting into our marriage and family. Still, I cannot help but feel as if I am in hiding. Some people ask me about my "sabbatical." Well, it is not a sabbatical. This is more of a cave into which I have crawled and in many ways, I do not want to come out of the cave. But, I am beginning to wonder - how long can you stay in a cave before you have become the cave? How long can you just stay in hiding?

Honestly, I do not feel worthy at this point to come out of the cave. As one who once had a voice, I feel like I have given up my right to speak. As one who once was a leader, I want to now just hide in the cave hoping no one asks, "What are you doing in there?"

Lazarus was four days dead when Jesus arrived at the front of the cave where his body was laid. Jesus asked that the stone be moved and he called to Lazarus in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" When Lazarus, still wrapped in burial clothes, emerged from the tomb Jesus said to the others, "Unbind him and let him go." (John 11:38-44)

My mistakes drove me into hiding, and, yes, I have died several deaths in this process. Now my fear and shame seem to hold me here. I do not want to stay in hiding forever, but I am not sure how to walk back into the openness of day. In some ways I am waiting for a voice to call to me, "Andrew, come out." I am waiting for someone to say, "Unbind him and let him go."

3 comments:

Jason Valendy said...

What an interesting metaphor for your current life situation. It is rather personal that you would share you feel like you are hiding. I never would have thought that. Thank you for sharing that.

At some point, those in the cave begin to believe that reality is the shadow on the cave wall. It is my hope that you do not forget there is a light that is beyond the cave that creates the shadow. It is the light that is Reality.

I continue to pray for you and miss seeing you around. Keep keeping on and know your willingness to walk through this and do the hard work, (which many of us avoid in our own lives) is a good example.

Craig L. Adams said...

Well, thank God for the cave. You needed it. This restless feeling may be the first indication that you are ready to move on to something else. I know no other sources of wisdom and discernment than the classical disciplines of the faith: prayer, Scripture, worship, service, and so forth. There have been so many times when I felt dead inside, and the Scriptures called me back to life... It can happen. I know of no formula. I find that I must open my life to the means of grace - or maybe to the one I'm currently neglecting - and in some mysterious way I cannot predict or control, God breathes life to me again.

mikerite said...

I've been in a cave and happy I came out. I had to come out, however, in my own time. The difference between our caves is that my cave was not self-imposed. While I was there, I confronted some places in myself that needed to be seen in the cave and then brought into the light of day - or reality!

I fully support and deeply love you in the cave or out. If I need to enter the cave with you for lunch or coffee or just a chat it is high time I did that. If I need to help call you out for that lunch or coffee or chat I will do that, too!

In the meantime, I hope a still small voice has entered the cave and started a rumble.