It’s time to worry less about General Conference 2019.
Yes, I know it hasn’t happened yet and the anxiety levels are only rising right now. I know that clergy and laity are nervous of what is going to happen. I have heard from many pastors, people in my church, and people outside my church wanting to know what is going to happen. I know people are scared. I am not denying that General Conference 2019 has the possibility to change the denomination as we know it, and significantly alter the United Methodist Church well into the future. I agree with all of you. There is a lot to be afraid of!
Yet something occurred to me the other day that spoke to my core.
I was talking to my oldest daughter about fear. She can sometimes be hesitant about things that she is afraid of. Whether this is in school or in her activities. We were talking about tumbling. It is scary to go for an acrobatic movement and not knowing where you will land. Yet you have to make the jump anyway as scary as it can be, and you have to make the jump with enough momentum to carry you all the way through. Any hesitation and the movement will fail. Time and time again I have watched her hesitate only to be thrown off balance and fall. We get back up, talk about it again, and try it again.
This is actually something that is inside all of is.
It is a function of our brains to keep us safe. The brain is telling the body, “There is no way you can do this.” There are sensors in the front of your brain called amygdalae that produce emotions such as fear, and transmit these emotions throughout your body causing you to hesitate or stop or quit or worry or become paralyzed. In some cases these signals keep us alive and keep us from doing things that would hurt us, but in other cases these emotions might overwhelm us and keep us paralyzed.
My daughter looked at me and ask, “Dad, what are you afraid of?”
I thought about this and thought about this. I am afraid of a lot. Maybe too afraid! Maybe fear has caused me to worry about something that I have absolutely no control over? Maybe fear has caused me to eat nervously. Maybe fear has caused me to speak ill of others. Maybe fear has caused me to find conspiracies when there are none. Maybe fear has kept me from seeing the best in others. Maybe fear has caused me to react to normal things in an abnormal way. Because of fear I feel like I am afraid of what is going to happen. I am afraid of the unknown. I am afraid of the outcome no matter what the outcome is.
We all get afraid when we feel like we have no control.
I can tell you from experience being a United Methodist Clergy sometimes feels like you have no control. Being a parent sometimes feels like you have no control. Being human sometimes feels like you have no control. Watching General Conference from 550 miles away feels like you have no control. So yes you can choose to worry about something you have no control over, or you can let go of the fear and worry. My wife (a saint I am sure) reminds me that if I keep worrying about something then I never get to live in the present. I am always tied to the past (what has happened) or the future (what might happen). So I am going to let you in on my secret for the next few months…
Forgiveness and surrender.
I am going to ask for forgiveness over what I failed to do and mistakes that I have made and I am going to surrender the future to God. Somehow, someway God creates something beautiful through our brokenness and makes something glorious in our failings. Whatever my preferences are for my family, my church, my denomination, I want to turn over to God. Whatever fears, worries, and doubts that might creep into my mind, I want to release them to God.