Intimacy Journey Part I: The thrill of flight and the fear of falling

As I stand at the end of my formal medical training, I realize that professionally and medically I have blossomed. I’ve achieved creating and implementing my own fellowship.  That’s not something everyone does.  I am admired, the younger residents and students look up to me… The attendings at all these top programs fought over me last month and the attendings here get excited when they find out I am their Sr resident for a month…. Its overwhelming how much my life has changed in 2.5 years.  I’ve made it as a pediatrician yet I feel strangely discontent.

But at what cost….I think in many ways I am spiritually burnt out. Some of this is the sheer nature of living in the trenches of humanity. I’ve lived with child abuse, horrible child deaths, teenage pregnancy, unbelievable poverty that is literally in my back yard and while I have pondered these things in the spiritual sense. I have not done much soul care for myself.   I preach the gospel with my hands and mind but not with my heart.  My heart is weary, beaten and a little lonely.

At the end of my time as an evangelical conservative, I went to a conference for college students. Beth Moore spoke, I was dreading that session, expecting to be told I should drop out of my pre-med studies, learn how to fry chicken and marry a pastor. She surprised me and the other Wake Kids.  She said the church has lost their minds….at the expense of their hearts in emotional worship and insular communities.   She argued that if your view of God has gotten smaller with your education than you are being deceived. She argued that Darwin, Kant, etc broadened our minds to the workings of God’s mind and in redeeming the world through the Kingdom by being able to engage others from different worldviews   I remember loving it, thinking maybe Beth Moore was a rebel too. (ha!)

I went too far with this ideal. I think as I have come out of my conservative background over the past decade I have fallen in love with Jesus intellectually and its been a wonderful rich time for me there.  But I left my heart in the dust.  I’m uncomfortable talking about God beyond he realms of social justice, theology and the occasional prayer requests.  My intimacy with God has become my time in the voting booth and the five minutes before I give a lecture on world hunger, disabilities or vocation.

I heard a sermon recently out of Exodus 17 (read it…it will rock your world) that explained we are called to be in the battle with a sword (Joshua) and on the hill with a staff (Moses and companions) with God (in spiritual battle/intimacy). I am all sword and battle and no hill. You can’t be one way or the other.   You are called to be both.  (oddly my boyfriend is the opposite…God is clearly using us in each others’ lives).

I don’t want to go back to where I was at 16 when I realized I was in the wrong place (at church camp when they forced my mentor and friend out of our denomination because she wanted to be ordained next to her husband….they are now co-pastors of a church and my disabled friends had no place in my church)  even though I had a intimate heart sort of faith,  but I don’t want to go where I am going either which is to make Jesus into a political movement.

…and as I heard from a seasoned medical missionary once…  “If you don’t know where you are going, you will end up somewhere else….”

I’m staying in the states a year longer than I planned and my first term abroad won’t be as long as I planned.  I think God knew we have some work to do…before….the rest of my life.   I have been so well equipped professionally ironically as I sign papers for more professional training. But the additional training will be an easier year… time wise  and in terms of my spiritual/emotional capacity than my first year in the trenches of life as a global pediatrician/missionary/random Jesus follower abroad.

As cheesy and as much as it sounds like one of those bad women’s ministry conferences that I have been avoiding for the past decade….I want to spend the next 18 months (I leave the country June 2014 for a year at minimal) exploring intimacy with Christ in my daily life, in ministry and yes in the things that are broken about our world (but not just in this realm).

I don’t like this idea, its not glamorous and it treads on my newly minted liberal mind’s nerves a bit, I fear the cliff that God might change me.  And change is scary but its necessary because the weariness of my heart will erode all that I have become and all that I am to become if I let it go unchecked. This is really the final stage of healing from my walk out of legalism, finding God again on the other side and realizing he was the same all along….

Isaiah 40:28-31  Have you never heard or understood? Don’t you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. (his mind). He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weary. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will given up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on the wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

“Why does the thrill of flight always start with the fear of failing?”

Sometimes waiting on the Lord….looks like a jump off a cliff.  Its saying I don’t know what you are doing or leading but I know where I’m going and that’s with you.


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