Fully Integrated Lives

Dear Church,

One of the recent goals in my life has been to live a more integrated life.  Meaning, I desire to be more authentic, emotionally present, and consistent wherever I am whenever I am there.  My mantra has been “Be still and know.”  I deeply desire for this in my life and by the grace and presence of the Holy Spirit, I’m taking it one day at a time.  However, the pastoral life does not lend itself to living a fully integrated life.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  By nature, the pastoral life encourages a more disconnected self where one almost needs to compartmentalize emotions and “put on” a certain self in certain situations.  Case in point:  last Friday.

I began my day bright and early picking up my friend Randy and making the trek to the north suburbs for a delightful round of golf.  Randy, myself and two other friends enjoyed a scenic walk through 18 holes on a stunningly beautiful Friday morning.  After golf, I quickly showered, had a club sandwich at the course, and drove myself back to South Holland to officiate the wedding of Keith Flowers and Felicia Tate at 3:30pm.  With traffic, I made it home with 45 minutes to spare.  I got my notes together for the wedding, walked Keith down the aisle and officiated their beautiful wedding. 

When I got home from the wedding, and had just taken off my sweat soaked shirt and tie and put on my “play clothes” to meet Sarah and the boys at the park, I got a call from Chief Kolosh who informed me that a South Holland Police Officer had died and could I come to the police station to be with the officers and staff on duty.  I went to the newly renovated police station and found a handful of officers holding back tears.  When Detective Williams didn’t show up for his shift that day, they sent someone over to his house and found him on his back deck dead from a heart attack.  The police officers and staff were in complete shock.  Detective Williams was in his early 50’s and was a beloved member of the police department.  I arrived less than an hour after they found his body.  Emotions were raw and officers admitted they were numb.  I stayed with them, read a few passages of Scripture, prayed and simply offered a ministry of presence.  I would have stayed longer, but I needed to get to Keith and Felicia’s wedding reception.  I got there 15 minutes before I needed to pray for the meal and kick off their celebration.  I met a few of Keith’s friends from his Mustang Car Club, had a piece of chicken, and finally got home a little after 9:00pm.

Not really an integrated day.  Golf, traffic, weddings, deaths, receptions.  And my guess is that you can relate.  Rarely ever do we just have “one thing” on our plate and even rarer is the day when the “all of a sudden” doesn’t happen.  And in the midst of this, God calls us to “be still and know” that He is God.  Perhaps the secret is finding that stillness even in the midst of frantic frenzy.  That even when we are moving from one situation where the mood is sad to another situation where the mood is joyful, we can still be present to ourselves and to others when we are present to the Spirit presently in working within us. 

“Being still” doesn’t mean the absence of moving.  I don’t think we need a fidget spinner or a drink or a walk or whatever coping mechanism we need to “be still.”  No, I’m inclined to think that all of our busyness and constant moving and changing emotions can be stilled when we, even for a moment, open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit who is alive and active within us.  Maybe it’s a breath, or reciting a Psalm or even keeping an eye open to catch a glimpse of grace in the midst of our constant motion.  So perhaps being fully integrated has less to do with coping strategies and more to do with allowing the Spirit to have full access in our hearts and minds.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Matt

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