Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Out of the Woods

I feel as if I am running out of things to say on this blog, which may be an indication that my original intent has reached its end. I wrote to chronicle my transition away from a being a pastor as my vocation, into seeing if I can become one that serves the same function, only without getting paid to do so.

It has been three years now since I made the shift and I can safely say that I am out of the transition. It’s kind of like when I decided to cooperate with my genes and shave my head. It took I would guess six months before I could look in the mirror and not do a double take. But over time, the drastic change became normal and now to look at old pictures of me with hair seems nostalgic.

So much in my life has changed, and I could fill several pages detailing the difference, but instead I write this morning about what has stayed the same. It is this one thing that has been with me over 27 years. I remember it well.

It was fall of 1980 and I was leaving the locker room of my high school, otherwise known as The Swamp, when a random comment spoken by a fellow teammate acted like a virus infecting my brain, “You better get your shit together with God” he said. From that point on I could almost hear the virus growing.

That one statement started me thinking about God and his place in my life. It was usually when I was alone, mostly late at night, lying in bed, that an awareness of God started to form. It was something I could not shake or run from. It was always there.

I eventually acted on the prompting and decided to take it seriously. That was in June of 1981. It altered the course of my entire life.

I was no longer resisting that quiet voice. I was now able to listen. And this is the constant that is still with me as I reach into the midpoint of my forties.

What I have found in this three years is that much of my spiritual identity was formed by external factors and not that still, quiet voice. In my early development, it was the spiritual practices or disciplines that defined me. Eventually, it was my community of faith and the security it provided. Soon I was engulfed by an entire culture and never even realized it.

Now, as I have separated myself from all those actions and activities, I get back to that one simple persistent beacon. Oddly enough, it has not been easy. It was easier to trust my place in the Church As I Knew It, and all my duties and obligations, than my position now.

Maybe this is the topic of the next series of writings.


glenn said...

"Oddly enough, it has not been easy. It was easier to trust my place in the Church As I Knew It, and all my duties and obligations, than my position now."

I wonder how many people could say something similar?

Les said...

"Maybe this is the topic of the next series of writings."

Let's hope so! I'd hate for you to stop writing.

co_heir said...

I think a lot of people would benefit from reading about the next leg of your journey.

Vance said...

To echo Les and Co_Heir, I'd hate for you to stop writing. I've been reading some of your writings (here & b&c), finding out who the forty-five year old Shinn is compared to the guy I knew at OU. Perhaps this most recent posting - your testimony - was a great transition to the next "chapter."

You're clearly a gifted writer and I'd hate for you to "hang it up." Even hearing you describe the things that led to a dish or your time in the garden (both from b&c blog) become an encouragement to one who's become way too busy! I'll keep tuned in to see what He does with you in your new ministry.