When a Leader Lets You Down

Where this post began…

Recently someone asked me how I was taking the news that came out about Bill Hybels. They knew I had called Willow Creek my home church for 3.5 years and would still be there if I had not moved last July. So I answered, honestly. When a leader let’s us down, it’s hard. It takes processing, self reflection, and honesty about ones own feelings, to work through.

“But running from emotional pain is never a good idea, as it only leaves us damaged of soul and hindered in our ability to fulfill our purpose. We have to turn and face our torturous seasons and the scars they try to leave on our hearts.”
― Stephen Mansfield, Healing Your Church Hurt: What To Do When You Still Love God But Have Been Wounded by His People

As I’ve been processing through the possibility that these allegations could be true (and the more that comes out, the harder it seems to digest), I reflected back to the beginning of my journey at Willow Creek. I walked into Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois in January of 2014. I was broken, damaged, and so beyond hurt by “the church” I had no plans of actually staying there or at any church. I was at the point where I wasn’t sure I would ever want to be more than just a bench warmer in any church ever again.

I walked into Willow Creek broken in pieces, and I walked out 3.5 years later (kicking and screaming that I wasn’t ready to leave yet), healed and stretched in ways I could have never imagined. The church, any church, is made up of broken and sinful people, this includes it’s leaders. As a result of this, (at any church) people can get wounded and damaged. The churches I have been hurt in have provided healing and growing for others. And the church I found healing and growing in, has caused wounds, some extremely deep and unimaginable, and damage for others.

“Your horrific time of trouble offered you truths about yourself, windows into your own soul, and maps to the terrain of your inner life. Wise people learn to gather this intelligence to help them conquer themselves and then to live in loftier ways.”
― Stephen Mansfield, Healing Your Church Hurt: What To Do When You Still Love God But Have Been Wounded by His People

No one wants to be alone…

One of the biggest desires I’ve found we humans have is to resolve the “I’m alone” feelings. This has resulted in many scenarios where one group of people take one side and another group of people take another side. I think when we fight so hard to feel not alone, we often forget to keep our mind and hearts open. Because just like any story or situation, there are always 3 sides (if not more) to the story. There are the ones from each person (or people) involved and then somewhere in the middle of that, there is the truth. I think one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned as a leader is to hear out both sides before coming to any conclusions.

I’m beyond guilty of that need to not feel alone. For me personally, it stems from when I was a child. In 5th grade I was the targeted child in a very small class for bullying. I don’t know why I was the target, but it sticks with me to this day. The lies that were taught to me when I was just 10 years old were that I didn’t belong and I wasn’t wanted. These have fed into my needs and desires into adulthood and, if I’m not careful, they can run me into very wrong directions and decisions.

“A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.” Nelson Mandela 

A reflection on leaders failing…

So back to the whole reason for this post. Leaders are going to fail us, they are human. I’m a leader and I’m going to fail, because I’m human. But even when leaders fail us, that doesn’t take away the good that has resulted from their leadership. It doesn’t dissolve any positive experiences or growth you’ve had under their leadership. It doesn’t mean that the church, corporation, or group of people they’ve lead aren’t going to continue to grow and flourish. It also doesn’t mean that just because they’ve excelled in certain areas, that the hurt that has resulted from their misconduct shouldn’t be brought to light and that apologies shouldn’t happen.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” Jim Rohn

I don’t know what the truth is behind the Bill Hybels misconduct allegations, but I do know this. Because of his leadership, I was able to find healing. But I also know, because of some of his choices, there are people today suffering. My heart breaks for these people. It’s a very fine line to be able to celebrate my healing as the result of leadership of one person, while also mourning for the pain of others that result from the same leader. It doesn’t take away the value of my healing and it also doesn’t devalue the extent of their pain. It doesn’t mean that just because I found healing as a result of this leader, while others found damage, that we can’t still be in it together. It just means that we are two different sets of people, in a broken world, that have to learn to walk together with different experiences and say “you’re not alone, I’m with you”.

My promise as a leader…

So what will I take away for my own life? As a leader, I promise to always be open and honest. To hear my employees out. To apologize if I’ve said something either I or they feel was hurtful. I promise to not aim to be perfect, but to be honest and real of my shortcomings. I promise to listen carefully when someone feels I have wronged them and try my hardest not to come at it from a biased point of view. I promise to live with truth, integrity, and to continue to build my skills and character so each day I can become a better leader for whomever it is I may be leading. Whether I like it or not (and it is often on the not side), I know God has called me to be a leader. This is not a responsibility I carry lightly and I sure hope the burden I feel for being called into leadership never lightens. And if it does, I hope those closest to me challenge me and ask if I truly should be in leadership anymore.

I also hope that if I should ever be unable to look at someone else’s side, that those around me will call me out. It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong, it’s about the hurt on both sides and how can we come to a place where we both find healing. And to those suffering right now from leadership hurt, I pray that you find the healing you need. And as a leader, I apologize that we have let you down.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. ” Philippians 2:3-4

Cancer – The One Word That Changes Everything

Cancer. It’s my life’s work. My calling. It’s a word that makes people shudder. It’s a life changing diagnosis. Once the word cancer is uttered by a provider, that patient’s life will never be the same. Their world is suddenly turned upside down by just one word. Cancer.

I devote hour after hour to provide the best care possible, both indirectly and directly, to cancer patients. To me, this is the reason God put me on this earth. I can, and have previously on this blog, gone on and on about how incredible it is to work in the field I get to work in. On Friday as I was walking out of work I was talking with a co-worker who recently had a loved one diagnosed with cancer. She made the comment that it is really incredible the perspective that cancer, both fortunately and unfortunately, gives one person on life.

I’ve sat with many patients as they digest that 3 weeks ago they were living a normal life and now they are in the hospital indefinitely with a diagnosis that could cut their life expectancy in half. I’ve sat with the mom who says “I just want to see my kids grow up” or “I just want to see my child get married next month”. I’ve walked through the hair loss and grief process that goes with losing something you’ve never lived without. I’ve sat with the young adult who’s arms are so bruised up from being poked, they start crying before the needle even comes near them.

But no matter how much I deal with it day in and day out, it’s always different when a loved one of mine is diagnosed. I got into this field because of watching so many loved ones walk through it, but each time it happens, my heart continues to break. It doesn’t change the heaviness or ache that is in my heart. In fact, I think the more I know, the more my heart aches, because I know too much about the road ahead.

My beautiful friend Maggie recently heard that one word. Cancer. She has cancer. She was in grad school and planning a wedding to her dream guy, when her world crashed into pieces around her. And my heart breaks that with my recent move, I am now 4 hours away from her.

Cancer.

Maggie and I met at church and had an instant connection. It was one of those we couldn’t talk fast enough to each other, because the comfort level was there from the beginning, and the “me toos” just kept on coming. We think alike. Dress alike (have shown up in the exact same outfit, more than once). We have similar passions and dreams. And no matter how long it’s been, we can pick up right where we left off. Maggie is one of those people that has made me realize I’m not alone in this world. She’s a lively spirit, that has a passion for life, and chases after her dreams with every fiber in her being. She has a heart for God and to serve others.

So when I got the news today, I stopped dead in my tracks. I must have looked pretty lost because the people at Whole Foods kept checking to make sure I was okay. Cancer. It’s struck again. This is the thing about cancer, it doesn’t have a bias. It can choose anyone. While yes, there are things that you can do to help prevent it or raise your chances, but it still can strike wherever and whoever it wants. And it does. And in an instant cancer, changes everything by rearing it’s ugly head.

But true to Maggie and her fiance Travis’s character, they’re choosing hope and to fight with all their might. They are choosing to not let cancer win. They are choosing to face it head on, to get married, to plan for a family, and to love the God they serve. And this. This is what keeps me going day in and day out in the field of oncology. People like my precious friend Maggie and her fiance Travis. That know no matter what the outcome is in the number of days, they don’t let cancer win because they choose to live every day.

Read more about Maggie’s Story Here

But Don’t Let That Burn You Down

Ben Rector is one of my favorite artists. The first time I heard his song “Wildfire”, I was jumping head first into a relationship I knew was a major risk. It was one of those songs that put into words what  I couldn’t.

“I am learned that you’re not perfect,
And that sometimes the one you love can burn you…

When you love someone
They’re gonna hurt you,
When you love someone
They’re gonna burn you,
But don’t let that burn you down.”

-Ben Rector

Recently that relationship ended, and the lyrics above have stood to be true. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve felt a lot of pain and anger, and I’ve come out a stronger person  – because it won’t burn me down. The hard part about any relationship, especially dating, is that we have to learn we are the only part of the relationship we truly have a say in. We cannot control what another person says, does, or feels. We cannot force someone to live up to their potential. We can’t instill strength where someone doesn’t want strength to be instilled. I’ve learned that I cannot carry a relationship all on my own, especially if the other person doesn’t want to be carried.

I’ve also learned that a relationship that actually wasn’t a bad relationship at all, tough – yes, bad – no, can end terribly. I’ve learned that someone who actually has a really good heart, can make decisions that can rip your heart out. I’ve learned that you can stare in the eyes of someone and see just how much they care about you, and learn that they do not have the strength or capacity to carry out the actions to prove it. I’ve learned a lot, and for that I am thankful.

As the details started to come out and all the sudden things I couldn’t make sense of before, now started to make sense. As the realization that the whole truth had not been told to me settled in, and my heart began to break, I chose to walk through the pain. I got mad, I got angry, and for someone who doesn’t cuss, I cussed up a storm. As yet another downpour started in this, what feels like never ending, stormy season of my life, I sat there in the pain. I let the reality and truth of what happened settle in. I don’t know all the details, but I don’t want to, I know enough.

And as I sit here on the other side of {most of} the pain, I can reflect back. I’m thankful for the good times, because there were a lot of them. I will cherish the memories. The pain lessens each day. I don’t regret the relationship, because any relationship is a risk, and every relationship will hurt at some point or another if it is real. I choose grace and forgiveness. And I choose to hope and pray for his future. My prayers are that he some day lives up to the man I know he can be. That he heals from his past. And that he forgives himself. I pray for happiness, joy, strength, and wisdom to abound in  his life.

And as I step into life stronger and with more wisdom as a result of this relationship, I choose hope. I choose grace. I choose to believe that letting go of the anger and bitterness will be better for everyone involved.  And I cling to the promise that my God is with me, and for me, and that He has a plan in all of this for each of His children. He doesn’t waste the pain or hurt. I will cling to the fact that “Sometimes God does not change the circumstance but instead changes us in the circumstances.” (Meredith Andrews) That pain is part of my purpose on this earth and that I need to be “more brave tomorrow than I am today”. (Shauna Niequiest) Because as Brene Brown says in the image below, “The broken-hearted are the bravest among us. They had the courage to love.” I choose to continue to risk my heart for love of all kinds. I choose to not let the hurt and pain define me.

I choose HOPE.

I choose JOY.

I choose FAITH.

I choose FORGIVENESS.

I forgive you.

The Year of 30 – Fear Facing

This morning I was sitting at my desk going through the stacks of cards I received for my birthday.

I hate my birthday, bad things happen, and this year was no different. As I reflected on this stack of cards, but more importantly who they came from and the words inside, I’m thankful. Often, when things are imploding around us, we tend to forget that we matter to people.

I had a really, really hard time turning 30. It felt like I was no longer “young”. I felt like I had accomplished so much between 20-25 and not so much between 26-30. I mean when you graduate 3 times in a 3 year span, it is kind of hard to beat such accomplishments again. 

So as I was turning 30, I reflected on the goals/aspirations I had that had not yet been obtained. My dream of being a nurse practitioner (yes, more school), has not yet been obtained. My dream of being a wife and mother has not yet come to fruition. I hadn’t traveled as much as I had planned. In many ways I still felt unsettled, a lack of stability. I also reflected on what the last half of my 20’s was, and what it was surprised me. It was a lot of healing from damaging relationship of all kinds in my early 20’s. It was also a lot of making a career for myself, which included surviving the night shift and the endless hours of anxiety a new nurse goes through. They were years of self discovery and self reflection. They were years that have brought me to where I am today, and for that I am thankful.

So last week as I faced turning 31 and parts of my life were in shambles around me, I actually didn’t struggle. Because if I’m honest, my 30’s have been off to a great start with loads of adventure. Also, I trust that my dreams will come to be when the time is ready, and with the right people and the right school programs. I have a peace about trusting in the timing to be right, and less of a need to get everything accomplished NOW.

Over the past year I went to Costa Rica and faced my fear of heights by jumping of the side of mountains to go zip-lining  and I would do it again in a heart beat.

I dated guys that are completely out of my normal and learned a great deal and have great memories as a result.

“Leadership isn’t a skill you have, it is a skill you learn”

After a great deal of wrestling over the decision and praying, I took on a management position at work. It hasn’t been easy, actually far from it, but as my wise little brother told me “Leadership isn’t a skill you have, it is a skill you learn”. And everyday, I am learning this more and more. But, I have to say, when someone says “my boss” in reference toe me, my immediate response is “that’s not me!”… and then I realize, actually technically, yes it is.

I faced a lot of fears this past year both personally and professionally. I feel like my word(s) for the year of 30 was fear facing and as I enter 31, grace is what resonates. Grace for others. Grace for myself. Grace for where I’ve been and where I’m going. But most importantly sitting in the beauty of the grace from my Heavenly Father – knowing that I will never be enough but through His grace, He is enough for me. There is a freedom in knowing I can’t reach the state of perfection I’ve longed to reach for so long, but in Him I am fulfilled. My job is simply to walk in His grace and be the best me I can be. So 31, let’s do this.

 

 

Letting Go When it Wasn’t Bad

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on dating or singleness, but I feel like I want to share my current struggle just in case there is someone else out there wondering if they’re alone in this struggle. Online dating is hard. Really hard. For every 1000 messages you get, maybe 1 of those is good. There is a lot of comic relief in there and plenty ones you read one or two words and you delete it and need to wash out your eyes. Dating is hard. Singleness is hard. Life is hard.

For every 1000 messages you get, maybe one of those is good.

There are plenty of people out there that date for the one night stands or are okay with little to no substance in the relationship. I’m not one of those. I’m also one of those people that can get an idea pretty quickly of whether or not the guy I’m on a date with is a good match or not. I’ve been told I don’t give guys enough of a chance, and maybe I don’t, but I think I’m just able to read people pretty quickly.

Timing is everything

Last May I told God I would message every guy on Bumble (it was my first week on this app) that I matched with and if nothing worked out with any of them I was done with online dating for a while. During this week I met the guy who I’ve been dating for the last 3 months. Pretty much instantly I liked the guy. There was something about him and still is something that I was just attracted to. A lot of somethings actually. And let me tell you, the three months were really good. I was pretty scared, because I actually liked the guy and he seemed to like me back – which isn’t always the case when I finally think a guy is worth my time.

Pretty much instantly I liked the guy. There was something about him and still is something that I was just attracted to. A lot of somethings actually.

So for 3 months we dated, we talked, we had great discussions, we had fun, he pursued me (what a concept), and he was part of a season of extreme healing. It’s been a season of walking through past hurts and pains and truly digging deep and healing. A lot of this healing I couldn’t have done without this really good dating relationship showing me something different form the past.

Then a few weeks ago I could feel the distance growing. Then late Saturday night it ended. Some differences he couldn’t get past. He wants to be friends and I’m not certain I can be. The main reason? Because he really is a good match for me. It really was a good relationship. I still really like him. And the differences he couldn’t get past do not make him a bad guy. The struggles he’s walking through do not make him a bad guy. The core of who he really is is a really good guy.

Then a few weeks ago I could feel the distance growing.

So I’m faced with the question of how do you get over a guy when it was all really good? When even the bad parts of the relationship weren’t actually bad? How do you find a reason to let go when all you keep thinking about is the stupid ways that they match you?

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure. But I’m going to try and focus on the fact that there will be a guy out there who matches me just as well,  and maybe even better. A guy who the differences will be able to be worked past. A guy who is ready to date. And until then I’ll cherish the memories and try my best to be thankful that I got to experience something that is hard to figure out how to let go.

And let’s be honest, timing is everything.

So my single ladies, there are good guys out there. We just have to find the good guys who also match us and are in the same stages of life as us. And let’s be honest, timing is everything. So I’ll cling to the promise that I serve a God who loves me and hears the deepest desires of my heart. And I hope you have something to cling to as well. Because when life doesn’t make sense, we all need something to cling to.

Of This I’m Sure

You know when you find that one song that speaks to you for where you are at in life and it is on repeat so much you wonder when the people in your life are going to threaten you if you don’t turn it off? Well, I found that song recently in an unlikely place and it has been the soundtrack through my present season.

the past doesn't own us anymore

I was shopping one night a little over a month ago for family pictures (and I HATE shopping) when I walked into my favorite store Altar’d State in not the best mood. I recently discovered this store with my sister-in-law and it was love at first sight. There is something about the combination of amazingly cute clothes, ridiculously awesome house decorations (with a bunch of inspirational sayings which warm my heart), and the fact that I always find new music when I walk in there.

On this particular night blaring through their speakers were the artists Jenny and Tyler and they’ve been speaking truth and grace into my soul since that first moment I heard their lyrics. I love their whole album “Of this I’m sure”, but most of all I love that song in particular. In these lyrics -“Of this I’m sure, the past don’t own us anymore”, the whole present season of my life is summed up.

This season of my life has been one of working through past mistakes, ghosts, and hurts. Sounds fun doesn’t it? Kidding. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, but also one of the most rewarding seasons. A season full of sitting in my pains and anxiety and allowing myself to truly feel it. It has been full of not only letting myself see myself for who I really am, but also letting people in my life both new and old see me for who I am.

The past doesn’t own me anymore.

All the mistakes, ghosts, and hurts of my past, I’m releasing them of their control.

I don’t know about you, but so often I’ve let things from my past hold me back. It has nothing to do with the questioning of the validity of whether or not the wounds hurt or the mistakes were, well, stupid, it has to do with the control they still have over me.  A few months ago I began going to see a counselor – something I should have done a long time ago. There is such a stigma behind counseling, and it needs to be gone.

In these times of seeing this counselor I’ve been walking through things I’ve blocked out. I’ve been sitting in the emotions I’ve been afraid to feel.  And when I’ve said “I haven’t dealt with this” instead of moving on, she’s looked me square in the face and with no where for me to go she’s said “so let’s deal with it now”.

Through this one of the hardest things I’ve been challenged with is to not be afraid to let people see who I really am. It was time I let go of my need for perfection and looking like I always have it together on the outside go. And you want to know the most amazing thing? People are loving me for who I am, faults and all.

So just in case no one has ever told you, who you are  at the core of you is beautiful, wonderful, and perfectly okay – great in fact.

One night in a conversation I was having with one of the people I’ve been making a point to 100% be myself with I said “That’s just who I have always been”. In response they said to me “that’s okay there is nothing the matter with being who you are”. And in that moment a healing took place. A healing of wounds so deep that I didn’t even know were there until truth was spoken into them. So just in case no one has ever told you, who you are  at the core of you is beautiful, wonderful, and perfectly okay – great in fact.

And who you are at this very moment is lovable.

So I guess in all my ramblings I want to get this point across. The past does NOT define you. Allow it to shape you, to guide you, to lead you to better decisions, and develop your character, but not define who you are and where you are headed. Don’t be afraid to feel the emotions, because in feeling the bad emotions, it allows healing, and in the healing it allows for the good emotions to be that much more present and real.

And the most important lesson I’ve learned? Who I am, at this very moment even with all my junk and imperfections is lovable. And who you are at this very moment is lovable. One of the best things we can do is to allow the people who truly love us to see who we really are and love us where we are at. So my friends, with this in mind, I challenge you to be you – all of you. And remember, the past doesn’t own you anymore. 

How to Build Positive Relationships

I’m sitting on an airplane, drinking a gin and tonic, contemplating what makes for a healthy relationship. My husband, whiskey in hand, looks over my shoulder, raises his glass and chimes in with, “lying, sarcasm and alcohol. You’re welcome.” You wouldn’t know it by his suggestions, but he is actually pretty good at relationships.

ways-build-positive-relationships

There are a million and one things to read on healthy relationships – so many so that contributing without being trite or formulaic is a struggle. We’re in relationships with people every day. From our coworkers and neighbors to our family and friends – everyone we encounter on a consistent basis. Everyone is different; what works for some does not work for others. All too often, we know what we don’t want in relationships with friends and family because we recognize what unhealthy looks like, especially in relationships outside our own. Unfortunately, too often in our own lives, even if we know we are practicing unhealthy relationships (which a lot of times we aren’t even aware), we don’t know how to do otherwise. Continue reading “How to Build Positive Relationships”

An eHarmony Success

There are two sides to every story and this is particularly true for love stories. Each story is different and each person has their own version of the story. Steven and I decided we would each tell you our side of our love story to give you a big picture of how we met. You can decide whose you like better…

Her Side
7 years ago, I (Megan) drove into Ingleside, TX with the intention of staying for 10 weeks, complete my college internship, have a fun new experience, meet some sailors and move on with my life. Two weeks in, my life changed.

For those who have never been, which I assume is most people reading this, Ingleside is a small town on the outskirts of Corpus Christi. It had a small grocery, a Whataburger (which just to be clear, is superior to In-N-Out), a few other fast food places, the Buckhorn (a bar), javelina pigs, and a Naval Base. A small one. Prior to this my experience with the military had been slim. I knew some older veterans, a few ROTC guys from college, and a few that had gone on to the military after high school, but no real everyday experience with active duty men and women. And now I was not only working with them every day, but living on base. I was housed in the on base hotel which was the bottom floor of the barracks building.

My internship started and I was working for Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) in the single sailor department. That was perfect for me in my eyes as I was also single. I met many single sailors while at work, but got pretty bored everyday after work.

At 21, I was not looking for a husband. I was actually job hunting more than man hunting, but I was bored…so why not try eHarmony? Even if it only provided a few laughs, sure why, not?! I decided to give it one month. There were a few guys I messaged with, but no one really appealed to me until I saw a sailor who happened to also be in Ingleside. We went through the whole communication route they set up and finally started talking on the phone. As it turned out, he was a sailor that often came to the building I worked in and lived one floor above me.

We hung out for the first time just a few days after beginning to talk and saw each other everyday we could until my internship ended two months later. I finished up my internship and packed my car and drove back to Indiana.

unnamed-2

Continue reading “An eHarmony Success”

Girl’s Day: A bonding experience

This weekend I was asked to babysit my adorable niece Carolyn (we call her Caribou). She is going to be one in a few weeks. Since she was very small, her and I have always bonded. She is my little buddy. I always try to make the time we spend together special and unique. This past Saturday was no exception.

My sweet niece Caribou
My sweet niece Caribou

Caribou is a timid mover, but man can that little girl bounce and dance! I brought my mini speaker out into the kitchen and we turned on our favorite station thanks to Spotify: Meghan Trainor.   Dancing is always a necessity of a successful girl’s day. Bouncing, giggling, and baby gab…it was everything a dance party should be! If anyone could have been a fly on our wall, I am sure they would have deemed us crazy.

“Dancing is always a necessity of a successful girl’s day!”

Next, we decided we needed manicures. Correction, I suppose it was Aunt Catie that decided on manicures seeing as Caribou can’t talk yet…anyways! Continue reading “Girl’s Day: A bonding experience”

When an Ex Ruins a Passion

I love fitness, health, nutrition, and the joys of watching someone transform their lives. I love this just as much as I love working with cancer patients. So why for the last 3 years have a done this minimally and from a distance? Part of it was that I was getting my nursing career underway and I allowed the excuse that it took up all my focus to get away. The real reason I ran away? Because for a year straight I was in an on again off again relationship with a man who shared this passion and interest. So much so that he spoke with me many times of us working together and we spoke of sharing the same dreams I’ve had since I was a teenage girl. That dream incorporates a place where I can both serve and love on people and their families with cancer and those desiring to live a healthier life. But I let that dream disappear. I stopped chasing it because for a long time it was far too painful.

There are far better thing ahead than

 

Continue reading “When an Ex Ruins a Passion”

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...