What am I learning?
This simple but complex question is one that I ask myself a lot. It began as a way of reframing hard situations, a way of calming myself down and raising my curiosity. It has also been an effective way of coping when I am experiencing something challenging or painful.
Wondering what I might learn has opened doors that would likely have remained closed. I have learned about how my mind, heart, body and soul react to challenge. I have learned that God shows up in unexpected ways, if I begin to look. I have learned more about my own abilities, limits, and the gifts God has given me. I have learned about my automatic responses; sometimes they are very helpful, other times they get in my way.
I have found that wondering about learning is a tool that I can use to lower my own anxious responses and reactivity.
I believe there is always something more I could be learning, particularly when things are challenging, painful, or when my best laid plans are interrupted (more about this next week). I believe that God can use all of this for learning and growing, even those challenging situations I create for myself. We were created in the image of an imaginative creator which means that we also were created with capacity for imagination but also as learners.
In recent months I have been learning as the congregation I serve is in the midst of discerning God’s intended future. Like many other churches, most of our ministries were paused over the past two years. What is more, if we are honest, many of them were not working as intended even before March of 2020.
So we have worked to go slow, to keep wondering; what are we learning? What have we learned about ourselves, what have we learned about God? How do we sense God is leading us in the future? All of these are good questions that require a lot of prayer and intentional listening. I have been learning how to do this better and how to invite others into the process.
I have been learning just how hard it is for many people to be still and listen. I have learned how hard it is for me to be still and listen. I have learned about the passions and energy of the congregation. I have learned about the fears and concerns. I have learned that it is more important (at least in my context) that people feel heard, not that they always get their way. I have also learned a lot about old griefs and wounds of events that happened long before I arrived but are the ghosts that remain among us. I have learned a lot about how to be still, the value of listening, the value of wondering. What are we learning?
Our process is not yet complete, perhaps it never is finished. But for now I am hopeful that we are asking good questions, and waiting (even though it is hard) to learn a little bit more about our faithful God.
I wonder, what are you learning?
Written by Edie Lenz, Churches Learning Change