What brings meaning, identity, value to your life? Sometimes the true answer sneaks up on you.

For two weeks I am grandpa-in-residence with my daughter, Anna, son-in-law, Zack, and their new precious daughter, Josephine Kate or Josie, as we call her. I fell head-over-heels in love the first time I met her. She has one of those precious spirits. There was connection to her immediately. I spent that first week holding, feeding, changing, relating to her and helping out as I could around their house.  
We went together to a church service on Wednesday night with a potluck and that was great. Then Sunday, we went to worship twice again.  
I watched at church and the meals after as others had many roles. Caring for candles. Singing. Leading. Serving. Carrying the cross, the host, etc. Josie had many caregivers as well. 
After morning liturgy I watched the relationships unfold, while sitting at the table with Zack and two other guys, listening while they were in a conversation about a planned fishing trip, while Anna and others organized the potluck. That’s when it hit me: “I don’t have a role here.” The realization sank deeply into me. No role. No function. No real relationships. And strangely no desire to try to forge them.
The image of a ship without a rudder came to mind. Was my identity so tied to work, that I have none apart from it? 
I took my phone, stood, walked through the kitchen. The guys didn’t notice my departure. I was going to check in with Anna to let her know I’d be back, but she was in conversation with other friends preparing the banquet. So I just walked through the kitchen, up the back stairs, and out the side exit door. I didn’t close it all the way so I could return.  
I opened the journaling app and began to write down what I felt. I had this sense of being without people or home. I was the stranger. The one with no connection to any of the people, other than my kids and granddaughter. And the surprising thing was I didn’t want a connection. I didn’t want to try to reach into someone’s life. I didn’t want to get to know anyone. I didn’t want to be responsible to seek to build bridges or connection. That’s where the idea of being rudderless came in–My roles gave me stability, direction.  
I stood there in warm sun, writing, listening and received God’s clear word that I was enough, that I needn’t take on the people to know them. I could just be.  
Jesus spoke this to me: 
“Son. Make My life yours by being, by trusting, by again letting me be all you wish. You are enough child. The enemy would have you believe differently. Rest. Be. Walk.”
The word, the sun, the honesty before God, His love — freed me, remarkably.
I walked back into the room and sat down in same chair I’d previously occupied. But this time, I could sit in the chair and not be divided within. I could be there without the need for a role to feel I had value. Anna said– “There you are dad! You doing okay?”  
“Great,” I could honestly answer. “So great.”
Somehow in that weird way of heart and soul, to admit what I felt, caused me to feel more centered, more engaged, more connected.  
Immediately relationships birthed with some friends of Anna and Zack’s. I had an opportunity to share with one woman the discovery I had made — that Jesus not my tikes gave me identity. 
Again at a later gathering at the park I found myself in four deep and significant conversations. I had a rudder after all. It was not my role that provided it. It had nothing to do with my job but had and has everything to do with my being. Who I am– that’s the place God starts. And who I am is enough.
As author Ann Kiemel Anderson used to say– “you and me and God and love. We are out to make a difference. And we can.”  

About Camino Way 2016 Shimer

On August 22, 1981 I married this wonderful woman, Karen, who has consistently blessed and changed my life and days. We are still in love, all the more with the years. We have four daughters, two sons by marriage, and three delightful, wonderful grandchildren. So, that makes me a husband, father, and grandfather all in those sentences. But mostly just a guy who loves my family. Today Karen and I planted beautiful plants in numerous pots. She had come home with the plants and that experience reminded me how much I enjoy simple things and simple pleasures -- like digging in dirt to plant a flower, like sunlight through glass on a spring day, like clean windows -- just washed ours today -- like a melody that won't escape from my heart. I've been a local church pastor for 30 years as of this June, a number that staggers me for I feel about that age on the inside, but clearly that's not the case. Back in 1988 I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary with an Mdiv-- a time of schooling that has been a foundation for years of ministry. But it is mostly in the building upon that foundation, that has most changed my life. I love people, love seeing Jesus work in people's lives. One of my favorite joys is to pray with someone through some horrible place of memory and see Jesus walk right into their memory world, and turn on the lights in a way that sets their soul free and brings healing. There's nothing like this privilege and I have been there to watch it happen more times than I can count. Between 4 and 7 the associate pastor of my family's congregation sexually abused me, first grooming me, then repeatedly violating my young self. This marked my life. It changed my bearings. It ripped at my faith. It wounded my image of what it meant to be a little boy, and later a man. It has been a point from which I have been in the process of healing for many years now. I'm a survivor, but more than that, I am one who lives beyond what was done. For in the middle of all that stuff, Jesus was calling me, speaking to me, bidding me to follow him to bring change to people's lives within the realm of the very office that was used to harm me. Only Jesus can make light from darkness, hope from despair, and healing from brokenness. I love Jesus. He really is alive, no matter what others may believe. And his life, his presence, his words into my world, his healing power have continued to be the foundation point of what it means to experience life to the fullest. I love writing. I don't really know why on that score for really writing has never been a central tool in my world, nor has it come easily. But I love seeing how words released heal. And I love the way words can connect me to other people's worlds. So, that's why I started blogging. It began because I was planning to blog on a weekly basis when I went to walk the Camino de Santiago last fall. And in order to be able to blog while walking, I knew I had to begin to practice blogging before I was in another country. A friend told me that. Friends are good to help us find ways to live more authentically into our daily lives! So, I started. But what I have discovered is there is something powerful about sharing the story of life with others. So, I have continued. And I love the connections being built through those words. In 2011 I experienced my first seminar in Simply the Story, a bible story telling method that involves those listening in discussion and I decided then -- "this is what I plan to do when I retire." But really-- "why wait until then?" -- so I use this method while I continue pastoring. It sets people free and allows the Word to take root in ways that preaching never has. So again and again I am practicing asking questions and that is good practice for me, because I am frequently better at "telling" than "asking." This has been such a freeing gift. I love training others in this skill. So, a storyteller would certainly be true of me too. Years ago I discovered my mission in life is "the joyful transformation of people's lives through the person of Jesus Christ." And that continues to be where I find my home base, in joy. Where there is joy, I find, there is Jesus, and there is the possibility of transformation. Of course Jesus is in places where there is no joy as well, and once He is there, the place kind of changes because of Him. I love that.
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