I was frustrated.
I was angry.
I was moving away from Washington State. I had developed some really intimate relationships with some of the men I met up there and had started meeting with them at least once a week. I was spending close to 8 hours per man each week praying for them, studying with them, counseling them, challenging them… shepherding them.
I had prayed for a long time that God would send a replacement for me or that He would develop one of them to step in and start shepherding that little flock in my place after I left.
It didn’t happen.
A couple weeks before we left Washington, I heard that another fella who is a part of the same ministry team that I am a part of was moving into the area. I was excited to say the least. I then found out that he had no plans of connecting with our little posse… he had no plans to lead it, to shepherd it, or to even meet with it.
In my frustration, I called the head guy for our team and expressed to him my frustration. The team leader’s response was pretty simple…
This man will be working a very specific and demanding job while
in Washington and simply does not have the capacity right now to
be involved. I’m sorry.
I was dumbfounded.
He doesn’t have the capacity?
What a poor excuse!
The team leader tried to explain to me that not everybody is capable of the same amount of stress, or relational tenacity, or multitasking agility. It was so hard for me to understand. I kept thinking that if I could do it, while being a husband, a father of 4, and a Sailor, surely this fella could do it.
Fast forward a year and a half. A long, painful, cold, and dark year and a half.
I have been in school for a long time. I was dropped from my original class and placed in the class behind me… akin to repeating the 3rd grade. While going to school, I had a handful of “distractors” stack up in my personal life. To name a few, and just a few, my grandpa passed away last Thanksgiving, my brother had a tumor removed, was diagnosed with cancer, and started chemo, we went through an eviction proceeding following a long period of no income on our rental home in NC, and have been the recipients of a lawsuit threat from an employee of a real estate company.
It all finally stacked up against me. Between the rough relationships in my extended family and me feeling like I have a responsibility to mend them, the loss my family has suffered, the strained (but healing) relationships between my wife and I (and my kids and I), and the lack of local friends (because I was too busy with school, there are good people here who care about me)… I cracked.
I would sit before my open books, read the same line a hundred times, and be consumed with thoughts that I was neglecting my family. I would close my books and go see my family but my heart wasn’t there. I would hear in the back of my mind that I was wasting the taxpayers dollar, that my family is doing just fine and that I need to do what I have been chosen to do… study and do well in school so that I can go forward and do great things on behalf of the US Navy. This cycle continued until I started to feel simply paralyzed.
I would sit in front of my books and just stare at them.
I would stand in my yard with my kids playing around me and just stare at them.
I went in to take a test a couple weeks ago and failed it. I needed a 75 and I earned a 74. A weak 74 at that… tons of guessing!
This test fail triggered an academic investigation. I told the investigating board all of what was going on in my home life.
The end result?
I have been dismissed from training.
Not for a lack of trying. Not for a lack of intellectual ability. Not for a lack of time management or failure to prioritize. But for a lack of capacity.
I had in my head that being capable of succeeding was directly related to my ability to perform when the time came. I now understand that life isn’t just about performing when the time comes. There is a lot of life that happens behind the scenes, when the curtain is down and the seats are empty.
I do not live in a vacuum and I cannot continue to ask my family to wait for me. As life has gotten a little thicker, a little more tricky, I have come to understand that I do not have the capacity to do what I wanted.
I am okay with this.
I am becoming very happy with this.
I was frustrated and angry before because I had no concept of somebody knowing where the edges of their envelope existed and choosing to stay within those boundaries. I am sorry for the way that I reacted to that situation (and I will get in touch with the parties involved in order to communicate that).
I now know what it feels like to be stretched beyond my capacity and I see the damage that that causes to me and my family. I also now recognize what it feels like to approach the limit of my capabilities.
I had a friend in Washington, a man I met with from time to time who coached me as a husband, a father, and a young shepherd. He would tell me often that I needed to learn to say no. He would tell me that he was afraid that I did not know where my boundaries were and that I was on a crash course for taking on more than I should and potentially causing great harm to myself and my family.
Rob, if you are reading this, you were right! I was on that train. I was not over committed in Washington, but I quickly ran out of space out here. By the grace of GodI did not cause great harm to me or my family.
I have learned what my limits are and , more importantnly what ifeels like to reach them.
I found my max capacity and I managed to get off that train before it wrecked my life.
Thank you to all the friends and family who have supported us, encouraged us, and prayed for us as we walked through this part of our journey.