Sunday, July 12, 2015

What Does Jesus Look Like?

A little over a week ago, in the space of about 45 minutes, my foot starting hurting so badly, I went to the emergency room.  I’ve had two children and several surgeries and this pain was excruciating.  On the way to the hospital, I put out a prayer request on Facebook.  I didn’t know what was causing this pain and started to panic.  We were scheduled to leave in a week for a family vacation to New York where we walk miles a day.  I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and the doctor said it could take about a week or two to heal.  They sent me home with pain meds and told me to put weight on it, stretch it, and walk.  That seemed crazy since I couldn’t even touch my foot.  But, I stayed up late stretching and icing it.  All the while, I was worrying about the vacation and what would happen if I couldn’t walk in New York.  I had visions of me in a wheelchair and wondered how I could get in the subway and if I would miss some of the outings.  I was in Olympic worry mode.  By morning, I was almost pain free.  After buying some new shoes, the pain decreased.  The next day I was completely out of pain.  As long as I wore proper shoes, I was able to walk.  Thank you God and the prayer warriors!!

I don’t even remember why, but on the plane to NY, I was telling Ryan about a controversial installation of a sculpture called Homeless Jesus by Timothy Schmalz.  It is life-sized and shows a homeless person sleeping on a bench.  You don’t realize it’s Jesus until you see the holes in the man’s feet.  I encourage you to check out Schmalz’s site for an image (they are copyrighted) and other inspiring sculpture. 

Today, we were on our way to Queens and took the wrong train.  This is a sort of a Carnes tradition now; last time we ended up in Harlem.  As we were navigating the subway, we descended the steps and at the bottom of the staircase, was a man in a wheelchair.  He appeared to be homeless and he was quietly saying, “Please someone help me.  Anyone.”  Over and over.  He was a little scary looking and had a large wound on his foot, likely from untreated diabetes.    I had taken a cue from my priest, Rev. Beth Fain, to see Jesus on my vacation.  Thoughts were swirling in my head:  see the face of Christ in everyone; when you have helped the least of these; you have helped me; he is Jesus.  

We made a last minute decision earlier in the day to pay for lunch by debit card because we were one dollar short for the tip.  Otherwise, we would have spent all our cash at lunch.  I pulled out a dollar bill and turned to him and put it in his cup.  I asked him his name.  His name was Henry and I introduced myself.  I always ask people I meet like this their name so that they are not a nameless nobody.  I look them in the eyes and I always promise to pray for them.  Something about him choked me up and I couldn’t tell him I would pray for him because I was afraid I would break down.  We exchanged a few words and as I talked to him, then others started giving him a few dollars.  I introduced Henry to Ryan.  I turned back to wait for the train.  I could hear him begging as I waited with my back to him.  Others walked by Henry.  I turned back to him and asked, “Henry where are you from?”  He said he was from Brooklyn and we chatted about how we were trying to get to Queens and our plans in New York.  Others starting helping him again as we talked.   He smiled at me and had a gentle spirit about him.  Our train came, I thanked him for his navigation advice, and we said goodbye to Henry. 

 As it became apparent we were on the wrong train (again), we made the best of it and used the time to chat.  Ultimately, it took us two hours to get to our destination, but we wondered if meeting Henry was the purpose of our detour.  This poem was posted on the wall in front of where I was sitting.  You all know by now I’m a big crybaby and I was having a hard time keeping the tears from streaming down my face in front of everyone on the subway. 

A week ago, I worried that I might temporarily be in a wheelchair in New York and how that might ruin my vacation.  Today, I met someone who spends every day in a wheelchair in New York and likely nowhere to sleep. 

This is what I wonder now.  How long has it been since someone thanked Henry for anything?  

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I’m Perfect. How ‘bout you?

So, right before I went to sleep last night, I watched a TED talk by Dr. Brene Brown about vulnerability, who is a shame researcher at the University of Houston.  Lo and behold, I wake up and check my emails this morning and there is my word of the day from SSJE (Society of Saint John the Evangelist – the Episcopal monastery):  vulnerability.  Damn.  So, I open the email and the writer even names the TED talk in his meditation and refers to Daring Greatly, Brown’s latest book.  And so here it goes…

As I read Daring Greatly, I’ve been trying to look at ways that I hide myself from others, where am I afraid to truly be myself, to be vulnerable. It’s becoming clear to me that I’m pretty good at revealing the big things in my life to others like my struggles with depression; divorcing and remarrying the same man; my son getting addicted to drugs; miracles I have witnessed. 

The small, every day things are where I hide myself the best.  I have very few friends who truly know me.  It’s not that what I’m showing people is fake, I’m just not showing all of me.  

In my consulting practice, I developed a workshop to teach public speaking.  The seminar opens with my story about suffering from perfectionism, specifically perfectionist procrastination.  If I don’t think I’m going to do something perfectly, I procrastinate.   I joke about how someday, there will be a 12-step group for perfectionists.  “Hello, my name is Molly and I’m a perfectionist.  It’s been six days since I’ve edited a document to death.”  My vulnerability is in direct proportion to how perfectly I think I can deliver.

A few years ago, I was preparing for Christmas Eve dinner.  As I rushed around trying to get the table ready, I couldn’t find my Christmas tablecloth.  I finally found it in the bottom of a hamper.  It had been in the dirty laundry since the previous Christmas.  Yep.  That is a little thing that I find very embarrassing.  At the time, I was reading Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection.  I called a childhood friend and said, “You are one of the few people that can truly appreciate this.  I just found my Christmas tablecloth in the hamper from last year.”  We laughed our heads off.  I shared with her that I was reading The Gifts of Imperfection and she remarked she was very gifted.   This Christmas tree is still standing in my son’s room as of today.  So there. 

Vulnerability looks like different things to different people.  To me, it means showing that I’m not perfect - that I don’t have it all together.  I am making progress but I can tell this is only the tip of my shame iceberg.  Some of you may think this is silly.  I can hear you now saying that I am sweating the small stuff.  But you’ll notice I don’t have a list of the small things that I can share – only the big things.  I’m not there yet.  Those small imperfect things are, to me, the most intimate.  It feels like sharing the big things may help someone else because there is a common theme - in all those stories, I witnessed God at work and that makes me brave. 

People tell me that they admire my courage for writing this blog; I don’t feel courageous. I only write when inspired and if people don’t like it, I don’t take it as a reflection of my worth.  I believe God gives me the words so I’m pretty much off the hook.  While the big things connect us by showing God’s divine hand, the little things connect us through our humanity.  Jesus was fully divine and fully human.  He was there on the mountain top and in the dirty stable.  We know all of Him so that God’s purpose can be revealed.  Can you let the world know all of you?  

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Siguiendo tu Corazon - no sólo un romantico cliche

One of my readers graciously translated "Following Your Heart - Not Just a Romantic Cliche" into Spanish.  I hope to have "Who Will Change Your Heart" translated and posted soon.  

Mi marido y yo fuimos anoche para hacer una diligencia. En camino a Barnes & Noble, estábamos charlando sobre nuestro día. Yo habia almorzado con un viejo colega y comparti con Ryan que aunque si me agrada la amistad con mis viejos compañeros del trabajo, yo ya no me sentia comoda en un mundo empresarial y ejecutivo. Juntos, nos sentamos en el coche y recordábamos mi viaje hasta este punto ...

En 2010, me sentía desesperada por tener una presencia espiritual durante mi jornada laboral - Gracias a Dios por el libro en línea de Book of Common Prayer (Libro de rezo en Comun) Recuerdo deseando que mi vocación fuera más como una labor de amor, como el trabajo de mi marido, el es maestro de educación especial. En agosto de 2012, acepté un trabajo con una firma de inversión privada. En ese tiempo, había la posibilidad d  recibir una cantidad sustancial de dinero cuando la empresa fuera vendida, lo cual esperábamos que sucediera dentro de algunos años. Durante este tiempo, imparti una clase en la iglesia sobre el trabajo como adoración, mientras luchaba con ser cristiana y preguntándome si Dios valoraba el trabajo o no. Durante años, yo había estado trabajando a tiempo completo y haciendo consultas a tiempo parcial. Si la compañía fuera vendida, me daría la libertad financiera para volver a ser autónoma y trabajar a tiempo completo como consultora de negocios, el trabajo que sentía que estaba más cerca a la de un ministerio. La compañía fue vendida a principios de 2014 y ahora tenía dinero sustancial en el banco.

Los últimos cuatro o cinco meses en mi trabajo corporativo fueron muy difíciles para mí. En retrospectiva, veo que a pesar de que mi trabajo era estresante para los estándares de los demas, yo probablemente hubiera estado bien si a lo mejor mi corazón no hubiera estado en otro lugar. Oré para que Dios me diera una señal acerca de si debia quedarme o salir de mi trabajo. Durante un período de dos semanas, las señales fueron dramáticas. Me reuní con mi sacerdote para que me ayudara a como distinguir la voluntad de Dios. Derrame mi corazón acerca de cómo anhelaba trabajar nuevamente por cuenta propia como un consultor de negocios.  A través del estudio de las Escrituras yo escuchaba el mensaje de "volver a Dios" una y otra vez. Debido a mi exigente trabajo, abandonar casi todo el ministerio fue muy doloroso. Ella mencionó que la posición de personal del ministro de evangelismo aún estaba abierta en la iglesia. Yo sabía eso, pero había rechazado la idea debido a mis 70 + horas de trabajo a la semana, más mi pequeña práctica de consultoría. Después de nuestra discusión, decidí  tomar la entrevista para el trabajo, como parte de mi proceso de discernimiento. Sin saber si me llamarian para la posición de ministro de evangelismo o no, dejé mi trabajo en diciembre de 2014. [me ofrecieron el trabajo en Enero.]

Yo le dije a Ryan que me siento sin inspiración para sequir buscando clientes para mis consultas - esto era algo que yo queria hacer desde hace mucho tiempo! Luego, vinieron las lágrimas. Finalmente me di cuenta que Dios no estada preparando mi corazón y finanzas para hacer consultoría de negocios, me estaba preparando para este ministerio de evangelismo. Más lágrimas venian mientras me disculpaba con mi marido por no buscar clientes para mis consultas, {algo que sería muy beneficioso económicamente para nosotros}. Él me aseguro que estoy haciendo lo que Dios quiere que haga. Rechacé una oportunidad de trabajo hace unos meses que ofrecia más dinero de lo que nunca antes había hecho en mi vida porque sentía que Dios no me habia enviado allí. Ryan afirmo esta decisión nuevamente.

Creo que debo seguir mi corazón, porque Dios está en control de mi corazón. Y aquí está un truco para mí. Si yo no persigo más clientes de coaching en el mundo de los negocios, voy a tener que confiar mas en Dios. Continue llorando, mi marido me sugirió que la posibilidad de obtener mas ingresos se había convertido en mi seguridad. Cuando Enron collapso y estábamos ahogandonos en deudas, aprendimos mucho sobre la administración del dinero que Dios nos proporcionado y en confiar que Dios proovera. Sin embargo, en los últimos años, ya que nuestros ingresos se incrementaron y las deudas desaparecían, tomé confianza en nuestra propia capacidad de proporcionar. Así que, ahora estoy de vuelta entendiendo que todo el dinero es de Dios y que vamos a tener suficiente. Quizás vamos a vender nuestro Corvette, quizás vamos a echar mano de nuestros ahorros, quizás Ryan obtendrá una posición como subdirector de una escuela. Quizás, quizás, quizás.

No sé lo que prepara el futuro, pero sí sé que aceptar este llamado al ministerio me salvó de la autodestrucción. Dios llamó a mi puerta durante años y ahora es pura alegría servir de esta manera. El evangelismo requiere la vulnerabilidad y el riesgo emocional, pero ahora también veo que sentirse económicamente vulnerables y confiar en Dios sera mi mayor lección en este viaje. Como un tipo de persona "cuadrada", me gusta admitir que tengo que aprender esta lección de nuevo. Me imagino a Jesús moviendo su cabeza y diciendo "Molly Carnes, envié a los discípulos y les dije que no llevaran ni una túnica extra. Te di un nido de huevos para que te sintieras más segura y ponerte en marcha! "

Mientras caminábamos por la tienda, miré un estante y este es el primer libro que vi - literalmente. Le dije a mi esposo: "Dios está haciendo algo para mí." Él se rió y dijo: "Bienvenida a bordo."

He sido bendecida con este hombre piadoso que conocí por casualidad (no realmente); en una discoteca; un episcopaliano; Hace 24 años. En la actualidad, ¿Hay alguien en su vida que puede escuchar sus reflexiones, oraciones, anhelos y apoyarte en el discernimiento de la voluntad de Dios en su vida? ¿Puedes hacer eso por alguien más?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Following Your Heart – Not Just a Romantic Cliché

My husband and I went out last night to run a simple errand.  On the way to Barnes & Noble, we were chatting about our day.  I had grabbed lunch with a former colleague and I shared with Ryan that while I enjoy the friendship of my old work buddies, I don’t feel invested in that corporate world anymore.  Together, we sat in the car and reminisced about my journey to this point…

As early as 2010, I was feeling desperate for a spiritual presence during my workday – thank God for the online Book of Common Prayer.  I remember wishing my vocation was more of a ministry like my husband’s work that he did as a special education teacher.  In August of 2012, I accepted a job with a company owned by a private investment firm.  There was the potential for me to receive a substantial amount of money when the company was sold which we expected to happen within a few years.  During this time, I facilitated a class at church about Work as Worship as I wrestled with being a Christian in the workplace and whether God valued that work or not.  For years, I had been working full-time and consulting part-time.  If the company sold, it would give me the financial freedom to return to being self-employed full-time as a business consultant, work that I felt was closer to a ministry.  The company sold in early 2014 and we now had a substantial nest egg in the bank. 

The last four or five months at my corporate job were very difficult for me.  In retrospect, I see that although my job was stressful by anyone’s standards, I likely could have coped with it better if my heart hadn’t been pulled elsewhere.  I prayed for God to give me a sign if I was to stay or leave my job.  Over a two week period, the signs were dramatic.  I met with my priest to help me as I discerned God’s will.  I poured my heart out about how I longed to be self-employed again as a business consultant and that through study of scripture, I was hearing the message “return to God” over and over.  Because of my demanding job, I had dropped out of almost all ministry – very painful.  She mentioned that the evangelism minister staff position was still open at the church.  I knew that but had dismissed the idea because of my 70+ hour a week job plus my small consulting practice.  After our discussion, I decided to interview for the job as part of my discernment process.  Then, not knowing if I would be called to the evangelism minister position or not, I left my corporate job in December, 2014.  [I was offered the job in January.]

Fast forward to now, I start telling Ryan that I feel no inspiration to pursue any additional business coaching clients – the thing I’d been longing to do for years!  Then the tears come.  I finally realize that God hasn’t been preparing my heart and finances to do business consulting, he was preparing me for this evangelism ministry.  More tears come as I apologize to my husband about not pursuing the corporate coaching clients which would be very financially beneficial for us.   He assures me I’m doing what God wants me to do.  I turned down a job opportunity a few months ago that was more money than I had ever made in my life because I felt God was not sending me there.  Ryan affirms this decision again.

I believe I am to follow my heart because God is in control of my heart.  And here is the kicker for me.  If I do not pursue more coaching clients in the business world, I will have to rely on God.  More tears.  My husband suggested to me that being able to earn an abundant income had become my security.  When Enron imploded and we were drowning in debt, we learned much about stewardship of the money that God had given us and trusting God to provide.  However, in recent years, as our incomes increased and debt disappeared, I took comfort in our own ability to provide.  So, now I am back to learning that all the money is God’s and that we will have enough.   Maybe we will sell the corvette.  Maybe we will dip into our savings.  Maybe Ryan will get an assistant principal position.  Maybe, maybe, maybe. 

I do not know what the future holds but I do know that accepting this call to ministry saved me from self-destructing.  God knocked on my door for years and it is pure joy to serve in this way.  Evangelism requires emotional vulnerability and risk.  But I also see now that feeling financially vulnerable and relying on God may be my biggest lesson on this journey.  For a “check the box” kind of person, I hate to admit I have to learn this lesson again.  I picture Jesus shaking his head and saying “Molly Carnes, I sent the disciples out and told them not to carry even an extra tunic.  I gave you a nest egg so you’d feel secure so get going!” 

As we walked through the store, I looked over at a shelf and this is the first book I saw - literally.  I said to my husband, “God is doing something to me.”  He chuckled and said, “Welcome aboard.” 

I have been blessed with this godly man that I met by chance (not really); in a nightclub; a cradle Episcopalian; 24 years ago today.  Is there someone in your life that can listen to your ponderings, prayers, and longings and support you in discerning God’s will in your life?  Can you do that for someone else?   

P.S. If you want to be notified when new blogs come out, follow me on twitter @mwcarnes1. I only blog when inspired - no set schedule.