This month’s submission comes from the Rev. Mark Lawson, one of the Center’s spiritual directors and pastor at the United Church of Christ in Bayberry.
Denise sat on the edge of a chair in my office at the church. Her lips pursed, her hands folded and clenched in her lap, she was mustering the courage to take a leap of faith.
Three years earlier, Denise’s history of depression and her heroic efforts to conceal it had overwhelmed her. A therapist helped her recognize that for her entire adult life, she had dutifully played the roles assigned to her, without ever exploring her own God-given identity. She had never dared to believe that she was lovable just for who she was. The therapist, also a Christian, recommended that Denise seek spiritual direction. Taking this advice, Denise learned in monthly direction sessions to examine her own deepest desires as the best clues about what God was calling her to do.
Eventually, she made her way to church – a spiritual community that did not know her and thus harbored no expectations of her. Gradually, Denise rediscovered faith as a developing relationship with a loving God.
But it all seemed too good to be true. “All this freedom,” she said to me with nervous laughter, “feels like guilty pleasure; like I’m having dessert all the time! I guess a part of me is still afraid of God…I’m so accustomed to religion being a way to know exactly what is expected of me. If I claim this freedom, I just have to be me and let God lead me.”
“Just be me and let God lead me.” That was the leap. Denise took it and continued to grow in faith. She became a spiritual leader in her own right, modeling for others how to receive the gift of just being whom God made each of us to be.