Weight

Oh, there is just so much right now. Last night, as we were falling asleep, Jesse and I agreed we needed a summer. Not just the warmth, the reprieve from this awful winter, but a summer. We’re living semester lives, with no spring break, with no Martin Luther King Jr. day, with no summer.

The blog I thought I was going to write today was full of enthusiasm, my typical gushing, my typical excitement. Because things really are going quite well. Another draft of the book is finished. I watch several lovely children who are growing and learning things. I lead a group of amazing women I absolutely love, and they are going to change the world. Against all odds, the checkbook stays balanced, and we are in the black. I’m going back to Congo in t-minus ten weeks and four days.

But, right now, everything is just so heavy. I’m not doing anything that I can let slide. Everything is important, and everything has implications that affect other people. This is going to sound stupid, and probably painfully lazy, but I wish I had something I could just slack off on. Not because I want to do a so-so job at something—but because I feel, especially after last night, the weight of what I’m carrying, and there are days when it feels particularly heavy.

Last night I stood in front of a room full of people—of advocates, leaders—and told them I believed that small group leaders are the leaders of the church. Which makes us—the advocates—the leaders of the leaders. So, it’s our ship. And it’s either going down, or it’s going to sail. And I don’t know if anyone else heard it louder than I did, the level of responsibility and authority in that. I’m not even twenty-seven yet! I can’t lead a church! I don’t know Greek! (Actually, wouldn’t it be kind of cool to know Greek? But unfortunately I don’t think that gets you any closer to understanding, because most of us can barely understand things written in modern English, so I’m not even sure that knowing Greek really means as much as we think it does.)

I posted on Facebook a line about pod stuff, and I think some context is appropriate. Our church has groups called “small groups”—they’re meant to be little communities where people can love each other and challenge each other. They’re supposed to make a big church feel small. And each small group leader is put into a “pod” with other small group leaders. And those pods are led by advocates. I’m an advocate, so I’ve got a pod, four women who lead groups, and my job is to make sure they’re the best leaders they can be, that they’re constantly growing, and that their groups are as healthy as possible.

We meet once a month as a group; we eat together, we listen to a message, we talk about the leadership book we’re studying. If it’s someone’s birthday month, she wears a tiara (a real one—no plastic tiara for my girls! Okay, but they are rhinestones, not diamonds, but I’m going to say that’s not because I’m poor but because I don’t want to put a bunch of conflict diamonds on one of their precious heads. Ha!) and the rest of us wear birthday hats and bring her presents. Everyone else looks at us like we’re crazy, but we know they’re secretly jealous. (Is that okay in a church environment? Probably not. Well, I’ve never claimed to be a role model.) One of the things that works best is we have a group identity. The pod is its own character, and we love the pod. We’re committed to the pod.

I’m currently doing evaluations on their groups and their leadership, something I’ve never done before, and I think it’s going to be another game-changer for our group, because we’re about to get real specific, real intentional. The proverbial rubber will meet the road. I’m excited because I’ve never felt like I had the authority to come into their groups and intentionally observe them as leaders. But that’s changed in recent months, and here we are. And I think it will work because I think they know I’m on their team. I so desperately want them to succeed, and when that means telling them the truth, no matter how brutal, that’s what I’ll do. Because I want their success as leaders above everything else, including my popularity or “nice girl” image.

And I told the group of advocates that I spoke to last night that I feel I have yet to reach the level of “bare minimum” of what an advocate should do and be. Heavy. But that’s how big I feel the job is, and I slacked off on this job for a year and a half, and I’m not going back, not ever. I’ll quit this before I go back to not really leading the group, to being a “facilitator.”

Which brings me back around. Look at that. There really isn’t anything in my life that I can slack on. Part of that is because I’ve jettisoned—or am in the process of jettisoning—the commitments I could slack on. The outliers, the ones my heart wasn’t in. But the unintended result of that is a night like last night, a morning like this one, where I feel the weight.

I’ve got the day off today. I’m going to write. I’m working on an essay I’d like to start shopping around (if it goes well, which we’ve yet to determine). I’m going to do yoga in my living room. I’m going to make biscuits. I’m going call Simona and lie around in my PJs and maybe watch a Rob Bell video. And I’m going to pray and read and just be at home, with my cats, with no audience but Oliver and Gracie, who love me no matter what…as long as I’m on time with their dinner.

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