I was twelve years old when I stood up in front of my summer church-camp peers in a hot, southern Indiana chapel and proclaimed the God had called me to be a pastor. I returned home from camp and reiterated that proclamation to the adults in my church. I was going to be a pastor.
That moment has had a monumental impact on my life. I spent decades questioning it. I chose to go to a small, Christian liberal arts college instead of pursuing an interest in landscape architecture, designing city parks and golf courses. I left what could have been a career in Christian camping to attend seminary and further training in theology, biblical studies, and leadership. I experienced years (and years) of doubt and depression when those plans didn't come to fruition. And it turns out I experienced years of doubt and depression when I eventually became a pastor and then quit.
Life did not follow the linear progression I expected or unravel in ways that made sense, at least at that time. "The best laid plans of mice and men," right?
For those of you experiencing this uncertainty, unraveling, depression, or dark night of the soul, please know that I understand how hard things are. I know how impossible the world feels right now, how you can't imagine a way out, how you can't even imagine a next step. It's so, so hard, and painful and just fucking shitty. I know that words of encouragement can feel shallow and useless. So just know that I feel your pain and am with you. If you need to reach out to someone, to connect with someone who understands, I'm here for you. In the words that follow, take what's helpful and leave the rest.
My experience has taught me some valuable lessons in Editability. Editability is a skill. It allows us new insights to our experiences to more easily shift gears, change track, or branch off in new, unexpected directions with less pain and fear. Here are some things I've learned through Editability.
LESSON 1: PERSPECTIVE
Much of the doubt I experienced through that call to be a pastor was because of my age and context. I was twelve years old. Sure, some people know what they want to do with their lives from an early age, but I didn't. And experiences like church camp often illicit emotional responses and highs that quickly die away when we're removed from that environment. Editability has allowed me to have a more compassionate perspective on my impressionable inner child. I no longer doubt the reality of a calling on my life that night, but I didn't have the vocabulary or experience to call it anything but a pastor. I grew up in a conservative Christian setting. The best way I knew to express my desire to professionally care for people, to lead them through self-examination and transformation, was to be a pastor. In other contexts I might have been called to be a coach (ha), school counselor, or therapist. Editability allows me to reframe that experience and offer myself compasion.
LESSON 2: FACTS
I doubted my call to be a pastor for years, even while I was a pastor, and then doubted what I was supposed to do with my life after I left the clergy. I was so depressed and dizzy from that experience that I missed that I had actually lived into the calling! I had been a pastor, just like I said I was going to. I had declared my call to be a pastor and then it actually happened. Regardless of how long it took to get there or how long I was actually in the role, I had been a pastor. Editability helps you name what is. There were no guarantees that night. There never are. There was no promise of a long career or an impact I would ever see or understand. There never is. Editability acknowledges what has happened, the reality of experience, and works from there. I was called to be a pastor and I was a pastor.
LESSON 3: OPTIONS
Editability leaves room for us to be creative with our lives. I was a pastor and now I'm not. It's not the role or place for me anymore. But I still care deeply about personal change and transformation. I still want to help people live lives of deep connection with themselves, with others, and with however they understand the spiritual. I want to help create a world where people - your boss or manager, your spouse or partner, YOU - are creating a world of peace and wholeness and well-being (shalom). I'm choosing to do that now as a Life and Executive Coach. But I could just as easily choose to do that as a teacher, a bar tender, or a flight attendant. Editability opens you up to options.
LESSON 4: MICRO-EDITABILITY AND PERFECTIONISM
I've described Editability from a macro view of my life, but it has a place as an every-day way of living, too. We're three weeks into 2023 and you may be struggling to accomplish the goals you set out for the year, to keep up with the writing, running, reading, or other rhythms you'd planned to make this year a success. It's time to edit. Perfectionism will tell you that if you can't accomplish what you want exactly as planned, then you can't do it at all. But Editability will help you see that there is another way (see Lesson 3). Did you want to work out 5 days a week but you're tired or it seems like too much to fit into your schedule? Could you work out 3 days a week? Did you have plans to write a post 500+ words a day but you've taken on some other work that needs your attention? Could you write 500+ words five days a week and post twice a week? Were you going to meditate for twenty minutes every morning but just can't seem to make it that long? Could you meditate for five minutes each morning? Perfectionism will tell you what you're doing doesn't count. Editability decides what actually counts and offers a path away from the perfectionism's voice of shame.
Do you have a lesson in Editability? I'd love to hear it!