DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

When the Next is Now

Written by: on October 5, 2020

Three years ago, when I left the church, I left not only my primary connection to community, but also many ministry responsibilities. These ministry responsibilities consumed much of my time for so long, I was disoriented when those responsibilities were no longer required.

When I left the church, friends said kind things like “God has BIG plans in store for you,” or “Amazing things will come your way.” If I’m honest, I expected those big and amazing things to happen. I thought surely God will reward me for my obedience to follow God’s lead out the front door of that church. Most days I was doing good to keep my head above water with course work and the mundane of life, while also giving myself plenty of space to deeply grieve the loss of my faith community. Three years feels like a long time to be in the in-between.

During this time, in what I call the wilderness, God is redefining what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Church, service, and worship have taken on new meanings. Little in my spiritual life, indeed life in general, looks like what good Christians would consider “good.” I rarely read my Bible, much less study it. My quiet time is infused throughout my days. Worship happens when I’m hiking trails or covering distance on the road. Church looks like coffee or a shared meal with dear friends. Prayer happens as I breathe, and service is ongoing as needs in the community arrise. I spend a lot of time alone with God. Our relationship is open and true, but vastly different than what it once was. Silence and darkness are more common that revelation and light.

For years, I’ve been waiting for the next to come.

What I am learning is the next is now.

I kept waiting for God to show up big, to provide a platform and purpose. “But God can only be found in this step, never the one beyond. God is never someplace else. Even God’s darkness is the shadow cast by God’s light.”[1]

Instead of showing up big, God is showing up quiet, like a friend inviting me to have a seat next to them on the park bench or to go for a walk alongside the river.

In this, I’m learning to be content in the silence, solitude, and wait of my days. Reorientation and rest are constant companions, as I lean into wounded places of my heart and seek God for healing and wholeness. In this slowing, shalom is replacing the fear-based religion which compelled me to tirelessly serve with excellence. My reward for obedience isn’t a platform, but rather a posture; one that is bowed down, humble, and trusting and is met with grace upon grace.

In The Art of Solitude, Stephen Batchelor writes, “Solitude is not a luxury for the leisurely few. It is an inescapable dimension of being human.”[2] This is the greater invitation; an invitation to become more human, to become increasing one with Christ, as Christ is one with God. It is an invitation to “allow the mud to settle and the water to clear,”[3] to see “space as substance,”[4] and presence as a profound gift that allows others and myself connect with what’s important in this world.[5]

As a spiritual director, this is what I’m first called to be, and then do. As a doctoral student, in order to help others embrace their humanity and our Christ-reconciled death, I must be comfortable with listening in silence, noticing Spirit’s movement in stillness, and being at peace in the mysterious wait that accompanies dying, death, and grief. Poet Sadiqa de Meijer writes, “In English, death has a rare sound, and the only ordinary word that rhymes with it is breath, which is a rather lovely grouping.”[6] In many ways, that is our daily invitation, to discover the lovely in the hard and holy of life as we meander our way through breaths unto death, into our ultimate oneness with God.

 

Photo: simon-migaj-Yui5vfKHuzs-unsplash.jpg

[1] Stephen Cottrell. Striking Out: Poems and Stories from the Camino. (London, UK: Canterbury Press Norwich, 2018) 42.

[2] Stephen Batchelor. The Art of Solitude. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2020) xii.

[3] Diana Renner and Steven D’Souza quoting Tao Te Ching. Not Doing: The Art of Effortless Action. (London, UK: LID Publishing Limited, 2018) 120.

[4] Ibid., 129.

[5] Ibid., 136.

[6] Sadiqa de Meijer. 2019. “The Ebbing Language.” Poetry 2, No. 5 (September): 473.

About the Author

mm

Darcy Hansen

10 responses to “When the Next is Now”

  1. mm Greg Reich says:

    Darcy,
    Thank you for sharing! I love you comment: “My reward for obedience isn’t a platform, but rather a posture; one that is bowed down, humble, and trusting and is met with grace upon grace.”
    One of the hardest parts of this journey on this side of eternity is maneuvering expectations. Not only the expectation of others but those we have for ourselves. I have lived my life for the past 35 years with a personal mission and vision statement. I thought I was making all the hard right choices that would make my vision for life happen. To my surprise my life has not turned out like I planned. Sometimes life just happens and yet I realized that God was and is in control. I hold life a bit lighter after 35 years. I still believe in the mission and vision process. but I hold it in open hands. I too was looking for a platform. I still make the hard choices but for some reason I am at peace with whatever comes. Hebrews 13 brings me comfort, knowing that I am not alone in walking a life of obedience and faith and not knowing exactly where it will lead. Verses 39 and 40 sums it up for me. “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God has planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

    Where do you find comfort along the journey? Could it be that your new posture is the very platform you seek?

    • mm Darcy Hansen says:

      Greg,
      Comfort comes from having people I love journey with me. My husband is a huge comfort as he listens and encourages me to keep leaning into the unknown places God invites me to enter. When I share what seem like crazy ideas, my husband knows I do so having prayed and sought the Lord’s guidance. He may give me a bit of pushback at first, but in time, we discern together next steps. Knowing I’m not alone is huge.

      Reading these books has helped me realize the life God has invited me into is a life many long for. In fact, it would seem, it is a life that leads more toward innovation, creativity, and freedom than life lived on the hamster wheel. It is a life, that while counter cultural, is one that feels out-of-reach for most. I’m learning to treasure that reality, to receive it as a gift rather than a punishment. But I wonder how do I best steward that gift? Is there a way I can share that gift with others? These are the questions I am asking. Indeed, I believe, especially based on our current reading, our posture before God is foundational to the platform upon which we stand.

      • mm Greg Reich says:

        Darcy,
        For me I focus on those closest to me and when a open door I take that as an opportunity to explore and expand my voice. Influence is a strange thing. Some people have a broad platform, yet others change the world one life at a time. You have a definite writing gift which allows you voice to be heard by those seeking answers of hope to an experience that gives them doubt. I think you platform and influence is much broader than you realize. Well done!

  2. mm Dylan Branson says:

    Darcy, I always appreciate the posts about your journey. There’s a sense of freedom and expectancy that permeates your posts as you navigate the wilderness and continue to redefine what it means for you to follow Jesus.

    “For years, I’ve been waiting for the next to come.

    What I am learning is the next is now.”

    There’s so much tension in the waiting. We spend our whole lives looking forward and trying to discern what’s about to come. Even now, I keep trying to look into the future to figure out what my own next steps are. It’s hard and it’s frustrating at times.

    Your comment that “the next is now” reframes that. Learning to be content with the moment and to see where God is moving around us in the present takes discipline. We’re rarely satisfied with where we are, as we want to improve and move on. So thank you for that reframing.

    • mm Darcy Hansen says:

      Dylan,
      You are most welcome. I just finished reading Stephen Cottrell’s Striking Out: Poems and Stories from the Camino. So much wisdom is contained in 72 pages! 1- I sense a pilgrimage is in my near future. 2- seeing how God met Cottrell in the simplest of ways each moment is inspiring. Makes me wonder if we have gotten so many things so wrong when it comes to following Jesus? We like to micro manage and dictate all those next steps to God, but in the end, God is asking us to Trust and take the “next step,” or as you would say, “the most important step.”

  3. mm Shawn Cramer says:

    Friedman (and others) point out that directors and mentors can never take people beyond what they, themselves have experienced and endured. I am celebrating you leaning more into the spiritual director that you embody naturally.

    • mm Darcy Hansen says:

      Shawn,
      Thank you for the encouragement. The embodiment is definitely not natural. It is something I continue to grow into as I seek to more fully abide in Jesus. It is definitely a process, and one where I doubt my ability on a consistent basis. This week I met with a new directee who I feel is leaps and bounds ahead of me spiritually. She is certain she is to meet with me, so I have to trust God brought her to me for a reason.

  4. mm John McLarty says:

    What was it that John Lennon said? “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” All of life is merely moments. We can choose to live in them or we can choose to spend them thinking about the next ones.

    I remember how Elijah waited for God to speak and eventually heard God in the still, small voice. I also remember what God said to him- “Get back to work.”

  5. mm Chris Pollock says:

    Church in the wilderness. Perhaps, it is here that Jesus found sanctuary? I can’t imagine the drain, the depletion, that he must have felt. We catch glimpses of this energy being sapped from him, described between the lines and within them at times (ie. the ‘woman’ who yearned for healing and ‘their’ little faith).

    What happens in solitude that can turn us toward oneness with Christ? It has been like a wave for me. Your post has encouraged the wonder about this wave, what it consists of and its ability to overwhelm and console with… a Lightness?

    Church. This can happen in the context of community on a Sunday morning, in rows of ties and suits, too!

    A book that I haven’t ready totally, Carlo Carretto’s, ‘The God Who Comes.’

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