In June of 2014, I was broken, beleaguered, and trying to recover from the deepest emotional valley of my life. After twenty years of effective ministry at the church I had started in our home, a church that had grown from zip to thousands, I had resigned three months before.
But I knew my calling to Colorado Springs wasn’t finished. I knew God had yet to fulfill the dreams spoken to me so many years before. I instinctively knew that this was not the end but maybe, just maybe, a new beginning.
Afterwards, I drove up to a friend’s cabin in the mountains. Alone with my thoughts and Jesus, I wrote this poem. I recalled the process and the journey of the past six months.
A Wilderness Poem
Cast out, maligned, discredited,
What I gave myself to,
What I sacrificed for,
Stripped, broken, finished.
Those I trusted, aligned, prayed,
In the darkness counseled,
In the way made plans,
Knifed, unforgiven, betrayed.
Dark, lonely, a wilderness,
With shame accounted,
With blame pondering,
Repentance, tears, new fitness.
The wilderness, Joshua Tree,
The high desert,
The flowers blooming,
Arms upraised, God can see.
Embraced again, rising expectation,
A road in the wilderness,
A river in the desert,
Humility, risk, anticipation.
Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness in our lives. The problem is that failing is often shaming, sometimes humiliating and always painful. The should a’s and could a’s, the seeds of doubt, are always knocking at the door of our heart. Heartbreak takes the wind out of our sails. If you love enough, care enough and risk enough, you will experience disappointment.
Wholehearted living is the willingness to risk again, to get back up, with no guarantees of a positive outcome. It’s the only way to love, belonging and joy. Brene Brown writes, “It’s the process that teaches us the most about our lives. There can be no innovation, learning or creativity, without failure.” Since that time, God has restored my heart. Life and ministry are fun again.
So, when you experience failure and shame, don’t quit! Risk again, love again and build new relationships with people you can trust. Such is the essence of being wholehearted.
Steve Holt D.D. MA