No Running Allowed

There are days when I want an out. I want to run home to comfort and ease, sympathetic pets to hold and the smell of a home-cooked Southern style meal. Or maybe to time travel back to days of spontaneous songs created on a hunter green swing set beneath the old pecan tree with no responsibilities and the afternoon stretching into infinity, filled with endless opportunities for childlike wonder.

At times I want to argue with God and convince Him that He’s wrong, that He cannot possibly mean for me to be here, that surely my heart and mind deceived me. Acutely aware of my failures and fears, my sin and selfishness, it seems astonishingly imperceptive that He would call me to be a leader, to be (dare I say) a minister, to entrust me to speak into the lives of others. Some days I am overwhelmed  when the gravity of responsibility and the amount of trust involved alights upon my thoughts.

Track shoes
Photo by Lyn Belisle,

Part of me screams to run and hide, get away, get out NOW. Relationships are messy. Navigating questions and theology and life itself is difficult enough, but then to know others are watching, and seeking advice, and expecting leadership. Sometimes I just want to shout out, “I don’t know!” and be okay that I don’t know. Because it isn’t just some strangers, though occasionally it happens, but usually it is people I care deeply about and fear failing in some way or another. The  ones that trust and confide and I listen and pray and hope to God that I don’t say something stupid.

Those are moments when James Taylor’s voice cuts through announcing that I am going to “Carolina in My Mind”. You can carry on without me. Thank you.

But God knows I’m stubborn, and once in a while that is actually a good quality. He knows that, like it or not, I’m a bit sensitive and, seeing pain or hopelessness or fear or shame or any number of things in someone’s eyes can undo me in an instant. God understands my fears, all of them, but He doesn’t leave me there because of His crazy love and the fact that all of this is a lot bigger than me and my fear.

So I’ll go to bed tonight and by the grace of God awaken tomorrow. I will step out of my apartment into the streets of Kyiv. The smiles I pass along will brighten someone’s gloomy day. I will stand in front of a crowded room and lead English club and it will change someone’s life. I will have dinner with a friend and I trust that God will speak through me during our conversation. And who knows what else may happen.

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