In case you haven’t gathered from the title of the last few posts, my life is in a period of transition. It doesn’t matter if I plop right down in the middle of the street; I can’t go back to how everything was six months ago. On January 18, my father was arguing with his chronically-unemployed son who had completely given up on music ministry. No, we weren’t arguing about my being chronically-unemployed. Given that day was a Wednesday, we were probably arguing because I couldn’t figure out what real food he wanted to eat.
Wednesday is Free Pie Day at O’Charley’s. Dad didn’t say it, but he wasn’t interested in anything on the menu. He just wanted his free apple pie. I got pecan. Yes, I pronounced it “pee can.” I prefer it slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Hold up… Had to take a break while recalling the memory of that goodness. I may have to find a stock photo of pecan pie ala mode just to put in this blog entry.
Yes… I know. Pecan pie has nothing to do with what I’m talking about.
Anyway, as of today July 18, my father is probably arguing with Jesus himself. Well… To be fair, I argue with the Lord every day, so that probably doesn’t tell you anything. What I meant is that my father is – well – probably telling the heavenly choir that their rehearsals are drowning out the television. Back here on Earth, I have rejoined the ranks of the chronically-underemployed… in music ministry, even.
It’s okay. I told my employers during the interview that they were not allowed to fire me before Justice League Part One comes out. Hopefully, the success of Wonder Woman convinced the producers to get better writers. Seriously. Batman v. Superman was crap. Especially Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Steaming crap.
Quips aside… Emotionally, I am pretty much all over the place and will be for some time as I adjust to whatever “normal” is anymore. Some transitions are positive and painless. Mine has not been.
Now that I have gone over how I got roped into teaming up with the super villain Vo-CAL-lo to assemble the worship team at Mosaic Church at The Greene, I may as well tell you what unnerves me most about doing it:
No, I’m not worried about my musical skills, knowledge, or even lack of knowledge in various areas. I’ve got credentials and experience going back more than 20 years. I feel extremely confident in what I do and I feel even more confident in my ability to learn what I don’t know how to do. (Except organ. **** that $#!+. Not interested. Get a real organist.) I’m not sweating anything that involves any function of the job.
No… What scares me the most about it is my personality.
I am really not a people person. It’s not that I hate people. I actually love people… when I don’t have to talk to them. Okay, I feel fine talking with people I generally know, but otherwise I am an extreme introvert with borderline anti-social tendencies. Actually having to conduct meaningful conversations with people I don’t know really wears me out. In fact, the more crowded that it gets and the closer it gets to me, the more likely I will be in proximity to a distraction or a possible escape route. It’s nothing personal; once I’m done, I’m done.
Trust me… Even when I’m not feeling the social anxiety raging, I can still be a pretty aggravating person. Any day I reach the end without embarrassing myself or angering someone – whether for real or solely inside my head – is a good day. “Colorful metaphors and interjections” are a firmly-entrenched part of my vocabulary that I sometimes struggle to confine to semi-appropriate situations. (I don’t think I’ve killed any fig trees lately.) I can play the piano beneath a prayer, but leading one? Nope. I’ll say grace and it will most likely be one sentence. Look… Pissing off people is bad enough, but the last thing I want to do is piss off people and God at the same time.
Then, there is the whole image thing. Yeah… Uh… Get better role models; I don’t have my $#!+ together in any area. Well… Okay… My beard is pretty rocking despite the Cleaving Cleric’s repeated attempts to chop it off.
Why are all of these things are running through my head now? Beats me. This isn’t the first time I’ve held a church position. In the ancient days when I started serving in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati – all of ten years ago… Yes, that is antiquity in digital terms – social media was beginning to take off, but had not yet become integrated into – well – everything. After I stepped away from my last regular position in 2011, I really gave little thought into returning to a regular position in a church. While I have changed a bit during my “sabbatical”, I have for the most part always been this nutso. If anything, I’ve just grown more comfortable with it.
Let me get this out of the way now. Politically, I tend to lean fairly progressive. Everyone who knows me is aware of this. While I may not discuss politics all the time, I am not going out of my way to hide my positions. Conformity in the name of acceptability is just an act of self-destruction.
Here’s the cheat sheet for anyone eventually planning to complain about my political positions to my employers:
Health care? Single-payer. Immigration? Interesting how people are only concerned about the dark ones. Same-sex marriage? I book for weddings. Religious freedom? Depends. Does everyone get it or is it a cover to deny civil rights and public accommodations to “different” people? Gun legislation? 20 babies were killed and nothing changed. The discussion is over. Black Lives Matter? Why the hell is this notion even controversial? The flag/national anthem/pledge of allegiance/patriotic symbols/rituals? Yeah… I’m really not interested in any b***s*** loyalty tests where someone else gets to decide how “American” I get to be. It’s like the “What if” game. You can never win. Anything else that you want to know, you can just assume that I will take varying degrees of liberal positions.
People disagree with me on some or all of these things. Fine. Let’s disagree. We are allowed to be individuals. Many of those I consider my closest friends happily cancel my vote out every first Tuesday in November and I still love them. Except AJD. **** that dude. Just kidding. He only cancels my vote out about 25% of the time. I think. *eyes narrow*
What I do bring – aside from all that stuff on my curriculum vitae – is this mindset that as Jesus came to serve everybody (not just self-avowed Christians), those who follow Him are called to do the same. We cannot be everything to everybody, but we can meet them where they are – with love and without expectation or any “loyalty test.” Despite the potential landmines – and I’m probably the biggest one – I see an opportunity to help assemble and build something amazing that could do a lot of good in the area and serve a lot of people. The possibility to help create something meaningful and lasting is too good to pass up!
This is not to say that other more pertinent things don’t unnerve me. I promised something I’ve never actually done. Mistakes are going to be made while figuring this out and most likely at the time we are working to build traction. How do you incorporate multiple languages into worship with a primarily English-speaking congregation? Social media promotion – including on personal accounts – is an integral part of pushing our message out into the community. I want to share, but I don’t want that to be all I share. How do we manage this partnership between the two multi-site churches who planted us? And then, there is the band. Aaaaaahhhhh… the band. Still working on that one.
Well… There’s also the flexible time-commitment thing with no set hours or facility, but that is actually something I like even more as things kick into high gear. I’ve always done most of my musical prep work in my home office outside of “prime working hours.” There are a lot less distractions at night. If I haven’t learned anything else as a creative, it is that preserving mental space is extremely important.
As much as I am looking forward to Mosaic Church’s deluge of events leading up to our Launch Day on September 17, I cannot say that I am excited out of my mind. I want to be and maybe as the day draws closer, I will get there. The day I accepted the position, I drove my parents to Cracker Barrel for brunch with the Diabolical Dwarf. I didn’t even tell them what I was doing or that I applied until I handed the Renegade Rabble-Rouser the acceptance letter. Dad – being the engineer he was – fired off a barrage of questions about just the concept of launching a church in a movie theater. I’d never seen Dad take such an interest in any church position I’d taken.
Five days later, Dad’s hip broke. For the first two months as I was attending launch trainings and participating in church functions, I was also hitting the hospital twice (or more) a day and watching my father slip away. The last month of his life, I had to explain to doctors and nurses weekly that my father wanted to fight to the very end and if I could not do anything else for him, I would honor that. Today marks two and a half months since my father joined Jesus. When we launch in September, I’ll be wrestling with the notion that Dad would have come. (Of course, he would have been ticked at me, because I would have refused to let him have any popcorn. Popcorn is bad for diverticulitis.) I feel like he got cheated. I feel like I got cheated. There are people who never even got to meet him that got cheated.
Even with the swirling tempest of emotions around me, I recognize that this is where I need to be right now. Doing this. All of it. The fun stuff. The grunt work. The “Are you KIDDING me?” work. The whole bit. My whole life is in a bit of a transition right now, but this part is a positive by far.