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fountain pen on text sheet paper closeup

fountain pen on text sheet paper closeup

“Life is like topography, Hobbes. There are summits of happiness and success, flat stretches of boring routine and valleys of frustration and failure.” – Bill Waterson, Calvin & Hobbes

Since the beginning of this year I have been battling a slew of insecurities. I found myself, not long after it started, in the “valley of frustration,” and seemed to stay there for many months. There wasn’t anything really wrong, nothing serious. It was just a long “flat stretch” of routine. It was something, quiet honestly, with which I was not familiar. Life in general has been busy and unpredictable for almost as long as I can remember. There were, of course, moments of banality, but not long “flat stretches.” Even at our last church, working with college students and drug addicts provided lots of unique experiences and opportunities. There was often drama, often change, and often excitement.

There is, of course, tons to be excited about in ministry at Cornerstone too, and ministry itself is always full of ups and downs. But this has been the first time in my life where I have a very predictable schedule. It is the first time in my life where I spend most of my day sitting in an office. The change has been somewhat more challenging to adjust to than I thought. I love what I do, and the I love the people I care for and who care for me. It’s been a great joy and privilege to serve at CBC, but it has also been an adjustment.

The long “flat stretch” started to lean into a declining valley in early February and turned from difficult adjustment to “frustration.” Mostly it was driven by my own insecurities and attitudes, not by my work or routine. That was a realization that I needed help coming to. I began to notice my spiritual life was becoming parched and anemic. I was increasingly giving into my own insecurity and, from there, sin. I knew I needed to slow down, make some changes, and get some counsel. I am grateful for the mercy of God and the care of the many in my life who have helped me. I’ve received strong rebukes, solid encouragement, and wise counsel in the last five months.

Part of that counsel involved taking a break from most of my writing and from most social media. At first this was a significant challenge. I have put a lot of my identity and self-worth into writing. I see now, however, that this only works to fuel my insecurity. This break has actually been a tremendous help to me. It has allowed me to refocus and reorient myself. I have had time to reflect, to think about who I am and what I do. I have had time to focus my mind and heart on my relationship with God, not just on knowledge about God. I have had time to repent. It has been a tremendous season of help and recovery for me. I can see this break becoming a necessary routine, perhaps a “flat stretch” that helps me avoid or better manage the “valley of frustration and failure.”

Next month I will be returning to some more normal writing. It will likely still be pared down for a while, like my social media interaction, but readers can expect a slow return. I am looking forward to it with both some trepidation and joy. I love to write and would do it even if I had no regular readers. It is a way for me to process all that is going on in my head. But I am also highly aware of how quickly I can slide back into unhealthy patterns. So I will move slow and utilize the accountability systems set in place to help me keep a proper focus and orientation Godward.

What can you expect in the coming weeks? Something like this:

* Personal Reflection – A number of thoughts have been going through my head over these last few months. Material that I have worked through with a friend has brought to the surface a number of new personal discoveries about myself that I need help working through and thinking about. So, I will be writing more personal stuff in the next few months. To start with, I will be reflecting on “Books that Shaped My Faith.”

* Counseling Helps – As our counseling training starts back up in the fall I will be writing with a focus on helping to equip new counselors. For starters, I have a series lined up on “Destructive Themes of the Heart.” This was a study that helped me think about my own patterns, and I hope to develop it into something useful for helping others.

* Continuing Studies in Leviticus – As my year-long study project in the book of Leviticus continues I want to share more of my discoveries. I will start teaching on the book in one of our ABFs this weekend, and so will pick up next month sharing some of those thoughts and notes.

* Ask Pastor Dave – I am still receiving requests for the Ask Pastor Dave series, even as I have not been writing. So, I want to try my hand at a few of these in August. I will then take a month break to collect more questions and do more research, then I will answer more questions again in October. I will do an every-other-month pattern with this series for the rest of the year.

* Book Reviews – I have had trouble reading these last few weeks, feeling a bit burned-out on books at the moment. But I will keep up my reviews as best I can. I am thankful to Zondervan, IVP, Crossway, New Growth Press, and Reformation Heritage for the books they send me and I want to be faithful to my responsibilities to them. Expect, then, the reviews to continue.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying, supporting, and encouraging me during this season. It has meant the world to me to know I have so many friends who love me. God has been faithful and granted me much relief, encouragement, help, and hope. I have seen growth in my own life and trust Him to help me continue that growth moving forward. I have much to learn, much still to work through, and yet much to rejoice in.

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