Truth: Iffy

One of the greatest things I’ve discovered in seminary is that among all these future pastors, chaplains, ministers, and leaders, there isn’t a perfect person in the whole bunch.  We’re a little scared of the future, occasionally haunted by the past, continually doubting, and constantly self-criticizing.  We wonder why we were called, whether we’re good enough, how we’re going to make it, and we question if we can even do this work.  We are broken again and again by what we see in the world and we wonder if we can make one iota of a difference.

When I was an adolescent, I had only witnessed pastors and church leaders in their finest moments – proclaiming the word from the pulpit; volunteering to build churches in Mexico; hosting casserole-laden, non-alcoholic potlucks; speaking only positive and uplifting words to the downtrodden.  In my eyes pastors were these great, holy, infallible people who could do no wrong and whom everybody loved.

I never witnessed the brokenness that those pastors experienced.  I never witnessed their crumbling relationships, their mountains of doubt, their fear and frustrations, their depression, their nagging physical ailments, their “iffy-ness”.

I’m no different from my classmates.  I admit that I feel so unworthy to be here and think I will never be prepared enough to go into the work for which I am preparing.  If, for a minute, I step back and think about who I was and what I’ve done in my past, I quickly realize that I’m not the greatest person to be doing this.  There must be someone better than me out in this great big world that is more deserving and better prepared for this than I am.

I suppose I’m writing all of this to tell you the truth about me – and about your pastors, your leaders, your chaplains, your missionaries, your seminarians – we are all just as frail, fragile, broken, scared, unworthy, and doubtful as you are.  And we need each other to make it through this world; your pastors and leaders need your endless love, your unconditional acceptance, and your unwavering support as much as you need theirs.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Words

I’m not proud of it, but I must admit that there are times when I’m really good at tearing people down.  Sometimes I’m mad at the person and will intentionally say something mean or rude that cuts deep and will emotionally wreck them.  And sometimes, in a moment of playfulness, I’ll say something that is taken the wrong way and wounds the hearer.  In the aftermath of both cases I always feel miserable and plead for forgiveness, relationships are mended, and we (hopefully) move on.

This tongue in my mouth can lift people up, or bring them down.  It can encourage or discourage.  It can say something nice, or it can say something mean.  A friend of mine has recently been reminding me that I am in charge of my own body – and this includes my tongue as well, and the words I say.  I am responsible for what exits my mouth.

There’s a certain safety in hiding behind the screen and pecking out some words, some comments, about anything and everything that we come across on the internet.  In an age where we can say anything we want on the internet, it can be easy to let that spill out into real life where people are actually in front of us.  I try to refrain from making any comments online about anything – good or bad – because what I perceive as a joke may not come across as such.  What I perceive as a compliment may not be heard that way.

Both on-screen and off-screen I need to be more attuned to the words I speak, the words I choose to use, the comments I choose to make.  Will what I say uplift the hearer?  Will my words make the situation better?  Will this comment add to something good?  Is this the appropriate time to say this?  Do I need to say this?  Can I find something better to say?  Am I making a positive deposit in this person’s life?  It can be a challenge to wrestle with all these questions in the middle of a conversation, but it’s worthwhile.  If anything, I ask myself what I would want to hear if I were in the other person’s shoes, and then say those words.

Choose good words, my friends, and lighten up this world.

much love. sheth.