It’s Still an Unpaved Road

I nestled into this corner of the internet sharing stories and lessons being learned a world and a decade away in Africa. Typing out the story unfolding around me to flickering kerosene lantern light on a waning laptop battery with a dusty keyboard missing keys.

A few years later my health crashed and organizational changes I had no control over landed me back in Florida. I tried to keep writing here, but I kept staring at a defiant empty screen and that ever blinkin’ cursor. My heart was in 10,000 pieces.

Sometimes our stories need silence to become what they truly are.  Stories reduced down to truth lived out.  Stories with skin made real in seasons that leave stretch marks on our souls.  Seasons change and we change with them.  We ebb and flow, and old words and worlds fall away.

I made a commitment to you and to myself, I would only write here when I had something to say. It’s been a few years.

As my nation (USA) teeters on the edge of unrest and arguably the most important election of our lifetimes, I’ve been watching these last four years play out, and friends… I’m back.

This is still an unpaved road, a narrow path, a journey into becoming. But this time it’s different.

When I wrote before, I was working for a large international ministry as a relatively known leader. That meant I had to be mindful of what narrative I shared and how I shared it because it impacted many more people than just myself. I had to steward both my own story and how it fit into the broader organizational storyline around me.

Learning to navigate the institutional settings of Christendom was then an occupational hazard.  I worked and led in ministry settings for over 2 decades, on or between 3 continents.  I saw wonderful things and met some of my dearest friends.  But I also experienced a system whose shards frequently wound the very people it claims to serve.

It cost me deeply, but it also has made me who I am today.  For that I am grateful.

I am also profoundly grateful my journey has led me out of the settings I once worked within.  Over the last few years, I turned in my ordination, shuttered my faith-based nonprofit, and stepped into the unknown.  This is the story of my undoing, and my becoming.  This is the story of finding my voice, and the courage to use it.

I have the privilege of sharing freely and delving into topics that wisdom prevented until now.

Some things remain. I don’t write here to give you answers and I certainly don’t write to tell what you should believe.   I write with the wild hope that me sharing my journey might somehow become an invitation for you to embrace more of your own.

Whatever that journey looks like.  Wherever these words find you.  However they encourage or challenge you.  Take the ones that give you life.  Leave the rest.

I’m still here to talk about faith.  About finding it in unexpected places.  Having it stretched, shredded, shattered.  Then reframed, renewed, and remolded. All in ways I could never have imagined.

Jesus is still central to my story.  But not the neatly packaged, very white, GQ Jesus I saw in Sunday School books and films.  Not the Jesus with a doctrine ruler sternly checking to see if I said the right words and measured up to his standards. Not the Jesus portrayed in identity politics or used to back nationalistic slogans.

Rather, my story is about the Jesus who has met me again and again in the middle of my deepest fears.  The Jesus whose eyes see and love completely. The Jesus who flips over tables of injustice and so often looks different than the very institutions that bear his name.

Full disclosure. I no longer identify with the conservative evangelical model of Christianity. In some ways I never fully did. In others, I have grown and changed as I’ve listened harder and looked beyond some of the messaging bubbles I had previously accepted. These last 4 years have shown me a lot about who I don’t want to be and what I don’t believe.

So. I’m back friends. Unvarnished. Unfiltered by organization. Raw. Real as I know how to be. This space is going to be me reflecting on the unpaved road now winding through the intersection of faith, culture, and theology. A pandemic project for the edges of my days.

Some of you who have been with me the longest may find yourself disappointed or even at odds with my current views. I love you dearly, but if this space no longer gives you life, please spend your time online in places that do. Others of you may be really encouraged. I’m not trying to argue with or change you. Changing anyone is way above my pay grade.

But I will not, I can not be silent.

Fellow Americans, this election doesn’t change who we are. It reveals who we are.

In the strange state of limbo that we are currently suspended in, math and patience have overtaken global headlines. We wait for what lies ahead. However, friend, you are not alone in the waiting. Welcome to the unpaved road.