Feel the Funk
This blog entry is written by Mike Orr, Director of Student Ministries at Broomfield United Methodist and a DYWC Field Team Member.
Lately I’ve been feeling so many feels that I’m not used to feeling. I like to believe I’m pretty self aware and in tune with my emotions, so it’s been weird. Maybe you’ve been experiencing something similar. Wild times! But also quiet times.
Yesterday I fell into a funk. I’m generally a hopeful and sunny person, not prone to funk-falling. There‘s a place in the mountains that was still open for uphill skiing. Until yesterday. I discovered this when I was on my way to get my heart pumping and legs burning while practicing “extreme physical distancing” on a beautiful snow-covered mountain. I turned around feeling frustrated, and something more I didn’t yet understand. First world problems, I know. So I went home and grabbed my mountain bike, but the trail I wanted to ride was too muddy.
I changed plans and climbed a mostly-mud-free dirt road to the top of Green Mountain. You can see mountains, Red Rocks Amphitheater, downtown Denver, and most of our metro area from there. Clarity. Perspective. I had my Bible with me because I’m super spiritual and pious. Kidding. I’d planned to video our daily scripture reading to post online for our congregation, so I got the chance to share my thoughts on Psalm 51:10 with my church family. I want to use this COVID quarantine opportunity to ask God to give me a clean heart and a spirit that can make it through what’s to come. Probably something good to pray for all the time. Better late than never, right?
As I was cleaning the mud off of myself I had some time to evaluate what I was feeling and where my head had gone. I think there were at least three things going on, maybe you can relate.
First, that feeling that I couldn’t quite identify when I turned around and headed down the mountain was grief. We are all dealing with loss on some level. Yes, most of us have warm homes with plenty of food. Yes, we have books, Netflix, and Zoom to keep us occupied and entertained. You probably even have enough toilet paper. But we value some things more than comfort, like freedom. I was feeling trapped, feeling my hopes to continue doing something I loved slip away. I think we will continue to discover the things that we are losing during this time. Many are losing income, health, and their sense of security. We are going to lose. So we must learn to mourn well.
Second, I’m frustrated and angry. And that’s not usually how I am! I’m frustrated that we (like the big We of society) were unprepared for this. From individual households all the way up to the highest levels of governments, we didn’t take steps that the experts recommended years and decades ago. Why didn’t we really plan for online worship and connecting with our communities of faith if we weren’t able to meet in person? We could have had systems in place instead of scrambling. It seems so shortsighted now, but I suppose everything seems that way in hindsight.
Third, I don’t know what to do. When it comes to ministry, I feel like I’m just guessing. I’ve been in youth ministry since 1998. At this point I’m used to having a fair degree of confidence. Today I feel like I don’t really know how to do my job. It’s like starting over. Feeling incompetent sucks.
If you are still reading and feeling the feels, let me tell you where identifying these feelings brought me next. Realizing I’m grieving frees me to let go of what I can’t control, to recognize the importance of what I’ve lost, and prepare to move forward in my new reality. Embracing my frustration (and even anger) motivates me to make things better, to develop systems and relationships that can weather storms. Starting over is a great gift! That’s the gift of grace that God gives us every day, and this feeling of incompetence is really just what it feels like to be a rookie. It’s going to be hard work to learn how to do this well, but now I can get rid of what wasn’t working and start fresh in so many ways.
There are youth workers who are with you in this. Reach out, we want to stay connected. And remember that God is right here in the mess with us, just like always.
God is in the business of bringing new life out of death, making broken things whole again, and restoring health where sickness has taken hold. May God do all that in your life and ministry as we live in this new reality together.