What Are You Doing This For?
Crystal Whitlow | Heights Church | Richmond, VA
In the middle of quarantine, a neighbor stopped by during a birthday parade. She said she was going to all the parades because, and I quote “What else do you have to do?” Wait, what! You don’t have anything to do???I noticed that I began to resent those around me who blissfully took walks and played with their kids, because I often felt like I was drowning in my world. I was overwhelmed because it felt like life decelerated for everyone else — but for us — it moved to light speed.
When I got quiet, I really found I was a bit jealous. I just wanted to stop and slow down. I’ve had to learn the hard way I’m not the best at resting, and often feel overwhelmed when my pace becomes unmanageable. I read the other day that activity will mask our heart issues, and have always heard my pace determines my outcome, but this time I didn’t feel like I had a choice to stop. We were in a pandemic. Maybe it’s just me and my crazy achiever but ministry can feel like it never stops. There are always more people to reach, more people to love, another series or outreach to plan and make happen. When I find myself overwhelmed, when I don’t understand, or don’t want to just enjoy the moment, I have to remind myself: regardless, God has been so good, we are blessed, our church is blessed, I AM BLESSED! Am I the only one? I can sometimes feel guilty for feeling overwhelmed, carrying an expectation that I shouldn’t feel this way. Honestly, the weight and expectations can consume me. Oftentimes when I’m overwhelmed in ministry, I call my mother in law. She has been doing ministry for 50 years, and I knew she’d have something to help me cope. She once told me: “It’s not supposed to be easy. You chose ministry, you chose to surrender your life. Jesus suffered, so we are going to suffer. This will never stop. If you’re like me – sometimes you need to ask yourself, What are you doing this for?”
I realized in that moment, we didn’t choose to plant a church so people would like us or live an easy life, we chose to lay down what we have so that we can lead people to experience the God who can change their life. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, that it can be overwhelming and may hurt at times. When I think of the worst overwhelming hurt and pain, I normally think of childbirth. It’s not a secret that labor hurts, it’s not supposed to be easy or pain free. But for some reason, because I knew there would be pain in advance, I endured it! But it wasn’t just the knowledge of what was coming, but that there was joy waiting on the other side of the pain, it was worth it!
Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed and things are hard! You might not be sure where you’re going or what you’re supposed to do or you’re tempted to run away or maybe you don’t know what to do so you just ignore those feelings. I get it! I constantly have to check myself and ask why am I doing this, who am I doing this for… what are you doing, Crystal?? And in the moments of pain, I’ve learned it’s ok to FEEL the pain, maybe to even scream! I have to remind myself it’s not going to be easy, but I can’t forget to BREATHE and remind myself why I’m doing this and where I get my strength from! There is joy beyond the pain! You’re not in this alone… you’ve got this!
Love you! Crystal
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:30-31