“You don’t have to sacrifice your spirit, your joy, your soul, your family, your marriage on the altar of ministry. Just because you have the capacity to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it.” – Shauna Neiquist
I first read these words and could not believe she wrote them. “But Shauna, what about the ministry?” “But Shauna, what about God’s kingdom and my purpose in that?” “But Shauna, what about me living the Christian life?” Then, it hit me. My heart, my focus, my thinking and my questioning of this statement by Shauna were very out of line. Not only out of line. They were wrong. I sat and let those words on the page sink in.
For the last 8 or so years, I have been that person. Always on the go. You need me to do something? I am there. You need to meet and talk? I’ll have some answers or just be the ear you need. I’ll help run this event or show up at your thing. Whatever the cost. But something strange happened 2 years ago. I stopped wanting to be that person. It was almost like I couldn’t. That thing inside of me that kept giving and giving no longer could give. I was dry. Empty. But the sad thing is, I kept it up. I continued to meet with friends, talk through life, plan bible studies, go to meetings, show up at all events. But inside? I was dying. And I just couldn’t admit it. I couldn’t admit that I couldn’t keep up with what everyone else could seem to do so easily.
I think the key for word in this quote from Shauna is have. This word have has many meanings. I thought I had to do things in ordered to be loved, have worth or be of value. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t think the Lord created ministry for this reason. But somewhere along the way I got lost. I have sacrificed my spirit, joy, soul, family and marriage for ministry. And the worst part? I thought it was okay. Even more, I thought it was right. The Christian life calls for sacrifice right? So if I am going to be a good Christian, I’ll give it all to Him.But I have found that there is a difference between giving every single piece of your life to Him in love and earning love, worth, value through performance in ministry because for some reason I can’t seem to love myself. I have learned that being a “good” Young Life leader doesn’t make me more valuable. I have learned that this identity I had found for myself really was hurting the people I love most.
All of this is connected to deeper and more complicated issues within me. But for now, the discovery that “just because I have the capacity to do something doesn’t me I HAVE to do it” was one of the most freeing things as I learned. I know I need to start in the “why.” Why do I feel the need to act and perform in such a way for others? But to simply admit, “Hey, I have a problem.” and that be okay was the air in my lungs that I needed.