Brene Brown is Messing with My Brain

The middle is messy but it’s also where the magic happens.risingstrong

Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.

The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.  

Actually, the last quote comes from Jesus and the 20th President of the United States. The first two are from Brene Brown’s new book Rising Strong.

I find myself in The Messy Middle.

God calls each of us, I believe, but I do not believe that God necessarily has a specific call in mind every time we need to make a decision.  Am I called to serve First Church on the Hill or Christ Church in the Valley?  It could be that one of those choices is The One.  Or it could be that God could use me well in either setting.  The point is that I remain attuned to God in all things.

Are you called to fulfill your passion for painting?  Or are you called to develop a passion from the situation at hand – whatever that situation might be?  And then you’ll get to paint.

This article from The Washington Post speaks to the quandary of pursing one’s passion – that rather (misleading) American thing we tell our kids.  The German word for “passion” is leidenschaft which literally refers to resilience.  In Polish, the word is cierpienie which refers to suffering.  Called to suffer doesn’t sound nearly as much fun as called to follow our bliss, does it?

I’ve been called to serve two congregations of churches and one “mid-council” of a denomination.  I’ve been lucky.  It’s been clear.

So what if one’s calling is not so clear?  Questions to ask ourselves:

  • Can we talk ourselves into “feeling called”? (yes)
  • Is a call supposed to feel “right” or is it supposed to feel a little scary? (yes and yes)
  • How do we discern God’s will for us?  (your guess is as good as mine)

There is prayer.  There is the gut check.  There is the pros and cons list.  Long walks help.  Wise council  helps.  Reading Rising Strong helps except when it doesn’t.

In the final analysis, if there is such a thing as following a specific call, I wonder if “it doesn’t matter” is the answer.  God uses whatever choice we make.

It’s just that some choices are so much more efficient than others.  Making a choice that leads to 40 years of wandering in the wilderness sounds exhausting. And yet what if that messy middle – the wandering- is exactly the point?

On this glorious fall day, I’d love to hear about your call.  Does God feel near or far away?  Does your current purpose in life feel courageous or comfortable? Are we practicing what we value?  Or are we spending our days doing what’s fun, fast, and easy?   Discerning minds want to know.

7 responses to “Brene Brown is Messing with My Brain

  1. The second quote reflects the piece I’ve written for RevGals this week about my pride (the good kind) in my congregation as it closes. As for me, personally? Beyond messy!


  2. That mysterious ‘call.’ I have been pondering this a lot over the past year when I left my congregation after 6 1/2 year. I am currently finishing a one year term as a supply minister while the congregation goes through the process of identifying needs and then interviewing possible candidates. It’s been a good place for me, a resting spot after a very tumultuous time in my previous congregation, a place where I realized once again how much I love congregational ministry. As I pondered my future in ministry, I came to the same sort of conclusion as you did: that good, effective ministry can happen wherever we wind up. For me God’s call is a combination of a heartfelt YES, coupled with fear and trepidation.


  3. Our Church was praying over the decision to close or stay open. I believe God said to me that if we did close then we would be seeds where ever we ended up. However no one else seemed to have that message. Several years on the Church is still open, albeit a little smaller. To me therefore it is about the journey and surely God is great enough to be able to do the work that needs doing despite all our merely mortal and imperfect choices.


  4. I’m in the middle of Brene’s book and am loving it–it helps identify the “messy middle” I find myself in and the way I can faithfully attend to it. One quote I love from early on is essentially–if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I don’t care for your critique.


  5. While I was in seminary, my wise CPM chair talked with me about having “a call to mnistry” and “being called to a position/ministry setting.” We spoke about them being similar, and yet potentially not “the same.” I hear echos of that conversation here, and in my lived experience so far. I’ve come to understand that “calls” in the secular or church world are often stepstones along the journey of call, following God as we become the disciples we are being called to be.


  6. I have always trusted in a practical God and practical is not perfect but what is needed at that point and time. A long time ago my spiritual director offered me the wisdom of “the larger call”…and I am trying to live that now. I have much to offer but I am not sure there are ears to hear.


  7. Pingback: About that finding the call thing… | The Viau From Here

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