We often think of a minister as a divinely appointed voice of God that is speaking from this vast universal pool of spiritual insight. If you were raised in an environment such as the Catholic Church, you were encouraged to have this belief. I am a minister. I have many friends that are ministers. We were not born into ministry. It was a choice. We are human. We are very human. Yes there was a calling. Yes, we listened to that still silent voice that said, you have something to share. This is yours to do. However, we are human, less than perfect, full of faults, and seeking the truth just like everyone else. We like to define people by what they do. Ministry is a what you do thing. I am a minister. It is something that I do. Who I am is a much more complex and muddy question.
We are less than perfect. Some people in ministry wish to wear a mask. This mask shows a divinely peaceful person that is here to share their take on the world. That is fine. There is nothing wrong with that. That can be very reassuring. I have chosen to take a very different approach to my service. We all wear masks. Mine shows my faults, perhaps larger than they really are. I have a mental illness, or two. I do not deny or hide this. I struggle with these diagnosis, these illnesses. I can be a giant hot mess. I am a spiritual being struggling with a very human experience. Even with a very vast and powerful set of tools, I slip. I face the challenge of doing warfare with my thoughts and my mind. That is OK. I have a story to share. Part of that story is the struggle. Part is the success, but I think it is important to say, its not always OK. Sometimes it is very much not OK, and that is OK. There is hope in the struggle. There is hope in the success. There is gratitude and there is love. Those are the three cornerstones of my spiritual path, hope, love, and gratitude. I try to demonstrate them in my writing and in how I show up to life.
Here is the big secret. I don’t have all the answers. Heck, I am not sure I have any of the answers. I don’t know any minister that has all the answers. Sometimes they try to and I think sometimes we as ministers are afraid to not have them so we give out some very confusing wisdom.
A prime example of this is the infamous, why do bad things happen to good people? I have seen deer in the headlights from some very amazing people when that one pops up. I have also seen some weird answers. Probably my least favorite answer to this one is, “It isn’t about the good person having something bad happen. It is a good person getting caught up in someone else’s Karma”. That isn’t an answer. It’s a politician’s evasion. It only changes the question from why do bad things happen to good people to why do good people get caught in other people’s karma? It’s a non answer. Another one that drives me crazy is “that everything is good so you have to find the good”. That puts a lot of pressure on a grieving person.
My answer to this one is not a lot better but I think it is more genuine. My answer is, “I don’t know. I am sorry. Here is what I do know. Something bad happened and it can’t always be explained, but it makes me ask another question”. My answer is this. “I don’t know and I am sorry that I don’t have a better answer. This is what I would ask, after some time. I would ask, how can love, gratitude, and hope show up for you while you are in this?” That is the question I try to ask about everything. For me it isn’t everything is good, but where or how can the good show up. It’s also a tough question and it is an individual question. Your minister can’t answer it for you but they may be able to guide you toward your answer. That is the empathic nature of what gets done. Every question and questioner is unique, so we have to have help finding our answer. It is our question to answer, the minister is just a guide to the path.
I don’t like asking why, because it isn’t a question with an answer that can really be known in this life. Where is love? Where is hope? Where is gratitude? Where does good show up? These questions are worth asking, because the answer is available. The catch is you have the answer, not me. I might have more questions, or information, or insight that guides you to your answer, but is is and always will be your answer. I am not saying don’t ask your minister tough questions, Ask questions, but also be wiling to follow the path to the answer. And often the first answer to the question is to ask a different question.
Those four “wheres” are good questions. “how” is another good one. How can I turn this, how can I take this experience and manifest the love, manifest hope, demonstrate gratitude, find the good? Those are powerful questions because they beg for a real usable answer. What now? That is another question that begs for an answers that moves you forward. “Why” keep you in the rear view.
There is a very old story about a philosophy final exam with a single question. Why? All the students wrote and wrote and wrote, except one. The one wrote a single word, because. He was the only one with an “A” on the paper. He dismissed the question and moved on. I do not know if the story is true. I doubt that it is, but the lesson is relevant. Let go of why and ask a question that will help you move past the moment and grow. I spent many years asking why and never received an answer that fixed me. I don’t know if I ever got an answer at all. I asked a question that didn’t serve me. The answer to why wouldn’t undo the thing from happening and I am fairly certain a real answer for the question would have made things worse.
Here is the other secret. We are all, each an every one of us, ministers. When you console a friend or loved one, when you sit silently with a friend in pain, when you simply hold someone while they cry, you are a minister. You are a minister when you help others. You are a minister when you practice self love. You are a minster when you are an example to others that share your struggles, or similar struggles. Share your story. It is worth hearing. There is another blog that I follow on this site. It is about a very different set of struggles on the surface, but this writer, this minister, gives me hope. She writes about how it works for her and the hope, the gratitude and the love show up in her words. There are others that blog from a similar place as me and they minister to me. It’s all about healing from a place of love, hope and gratitude.
That is the very core of what I spend a great deal of my day on, finding hope and love in life and expressing it with gratitude. On days when I get in my own way and life manifests off, I struggle. Sometimes those days are super tough, but something always comes around to show me one of those three elements, love,hope, or gratitude. Then it starts to turn and I can gain control and get back to being me.
Let’s all ask good questions this year and be prepared to get real answers.