Thursday, January 20, 2011

Frustration...


I have decided to allow myself one blog post to rant, vent, and otherwise wallow in and try to express my displeasure at the current circumstances.

As many of you know, about a year and a half ago, a non-profit organization called the Dirty Roots Revolution was formed. This action was the organic culmination of many things: the college ministry I ran with my wife, conversations with friends, frustration with the status quo, etc. Many wonderful people were involved.

The organization was dedicated to empowering individuals with the knowledge that one person CAN make a difference. It caught on and grew quickly. Around the time of our one-year anniversary, we hit the milestones of me being invited out of state for the first time to share the message of the DRR and us being approached by a high school youth group from Indiana, requesting that we coordinate a week-long missions trip for them in St. Louis.

We did the missions trip and it proved to be both our crowning achievement and our swansong as an organization.

We never got to travel to Ohio to give the first out-of-state presentation.

And that’s because we made the tough decision to fold up the organization this past summer.

This painful decision was the result of numerous factors. The first being the quite practical matter of me not having enough hours in the day. The DRR grew enough that the administrative duties associated with it could have been a full time job for me. But I already had a full time job. And I’d begun taking vacation time from my “real” job; not to spend with my family, but to meet the demands of the DRR.

When I say “meet the demands”, please know that it was a joy to do such. Nothing made me happier. But the fact remains that as a husband and father I was working one full time job and volunteering at another. I continued to do my weekly radio show and my wife and I continued to lead the college ministry. I was running out of waking hours and risking losing out on quality time with my young family.

Had the DRR been in a financial position that it could have provided me a salary, I would have leapt at that opportunity with no hesitation. But therein laid another conundrum: The DRR was too big to be small, but was still too small to be big.

Part of the beauty of the way we’d set it up was that the DRR was able to operate on a minimal budget. There were obvious drawbacks.

Perhaps most frustrating; I truly felt that, given the rate of growth we’d experienced all along, and given the response that audiences consistently had to the message, that we could get it to a self-sustaining point, where I could draw a salary from it and make it work. But, that would require extra work and effort. Return to the realization that there simply were not enough hours in the day…and there’s the rub.

When I realized I couldn’t keep up the pace, I and my fellow DRR board members decided to let the organization lie dormant for a time. We called it a “period of prayer and fasting”. We wouldn’t do any DRR work, wouldn’t promote the DRR, wouldn’t talk about the DRR, and would try not even to think about the DRR. And we’d listen for the still small voice of the Lord, seeking His guidance for how we should proceed.

After a period of several weeks, with no discernible direction, it became clear to me that, mostly due to my actual job (the one that paid), I was going to have to leave the Revolution behind. We examined the options and decided that we would dissolve the corporation.

We urged folks to carry on the revolution; to keep up the good fight. We stressed that they didn’t need us…they were already and could continue to change the world on their own.

We pledged to continue one particular aspect of the organization: the homeless outreach that we conducted in St. Louis every Saturday. This was the program that folks gravitated to the most.

We named the homeless outreach The 3.11 Project, after Luke 3.11 which states that, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same”.

The outreach continued unchanged for several months and then our volunteers – mostly college students – got busy. That’s not a complaint or a criticism. College students live hectic lives. And The 3.11 Project is definitely not an official part of their college career.

But, after several weeks of no one showing up for the outreach trips, I decided that A) we shouldn’t be telling our homeless friends that we were going to be there every week anymore and B) that I wasn’t willing to continue putting in the still-lengthy hours required to organize and prepare the supplies for the trips.

So The 3.11 Project has disbanded as well.

And I hate it.

I hate that we had to fold up the revolution.

I hate with a passion that the revolution mostly had to fold up because of my job.

I hate that it came down to me having to make a decision based mostly on money and benefits.

I resent that I believe some of the factors that came into play were based on un-truths , and I resent that I can’t prove that.

I feel like “The Man” won. We set out to buck the status quo and “stick it to the man”, as they say. And, I feel like The Man won, just like he always does.

I feel like I abandoned a dream. I feel like I gave up. Or at least gave up too easy.

Those who claim to live their lives for Jesus Christ are called to live radically. To step out in faith and lean on Him to provide our daily bread. Did I do that? Or did I take the safe road? Am I wrong for choosing the path I did?

My main priority in this earthly life is to provide for my wife and daughter. So I did. But Christ calls us to a radical life of obedience to Him alone. Did I set that example for my daughter?

A friend of mine posted a blog entry a while back that said she’d been dreaming that she was standing before God, continually avoiding His gaze. He’d try to meet her eyes and she would continually turn away. Even when He shouted, “LOOK AT ME”, she diverted her eyes. That’s exactly how I feel. And I’m not exactly sure why.

I feel like it’s because I’ve done something wrong. Let Him down. Or is it because I pity myself? Is it because this worked out His way and not my way?

I’m growing closer to a point where I’ll be able to look Him in the eye again. Healing is coming. But it’s coming slow.

A song that has become a favorite of mine recently declares, “Lord, I hope I’m doin’ this right.” And I can’t say it any better. I chose my path. I sure hope I’m doin’ this right.

But I hate this path I’ve chosen. I see the path I’m on as the easy, paved, well-worn, much-traveled, wide, Western-ized, American Dream version of Christianity that I hate so deep within myself. But am I on it for a reason? Is this where He wants me now?

Am I here because I didn’t choose the right path?

Or am I on that path at all?

I hate the way this feels. I hate that I may have made the wrong decision. I hate that I couldn’t and still can’t see what the alternative would have been, had I chosen another path. I hate not knowing.

I hate that people still ask about the DRR. I hate that people still try to donate supplies and money. I hate that some people haven’t heard that we folded up.

I hate that this dream still burns within me. CORRECTION: I LOVE that this dream burns inside me. I hate that I don’t know what to do with it. I hate that I can’t tell anymore if this is my dream or His dream. Could it still be both?

I’m looking for you, Lord. I want to be radical. Not my will, but Yours be done.

2 comments:

  1. There is so much I could say, but I'm not even sure where to begin. I'm not even sure what all I would say if I had time and space. What I will say is that in a church context, sometimes saying "no" to ministry is standing up to "the man." I've seen many family relationships sacrificed on the altar of good things that weren't necessarily the RIGHT things. I personally think it took real courage for you to make the decision you did. And I think that if you are going to create real changes, you have to start with clearly knowing when to say no.

    That's my $.02. :)

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  2. I can feel your frustration through this blog my friend. But don't dispair! God's timing is rarely in line with my timing, and I feel that it's like that for most of us. The "man" didn't win a damn thing. GOD has a plan in this. Is the DRR dead? You don't know that. Maybe God has other plans for you or maybe the DRR will rise like a phoenix again when the time is right. I can feel you on this man cuz I used to get mad about the lack of progress with my music, i.e. just not getting a large amount of people to notice or listen. What has comforted me over the years is this thought. There have been some people who have heard it and been touched by it. That is a victory for God. Same goes for DRR. Sounds like you touched a lot of lives. That's a victory for God Miff. Not "the Man". Peace.

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