Well – it’s been a while since I last posted. I took the summer off from writing and had actually planned to post again starting in October – but this past week God has been working on me over something…
Most people that know me will tell you – I am usually not the quietest guy in a room. I tend to talk loud and when I get people laughing, I admit that it just encourages me to get louder and go further… But if you ever are around me and you find me in a “quiet” mood… assuming that I am not ill or asleep… I am probably processing something. My wife ways she can read me like a book… that she can always tell when I am mulling something over, especially if it is something that is bothering me, because I don’t hide it well – and I can’t seem to multi-task. That’s how I’ve been the last couple of days. But before I get into that… let me tell you about the start of my summer.
Back in May, I met with my mentor Dan Bishop, to talk about how I was doing. I told him I felt like I was in a “funk” and just couldn’t shake it off. His encouragement was that I take a kind of 90 Days of Purpose approach… To take 90 days and focus on some time that I blocked out for study, for prayer, for exercise… to be purposefully intentional with my time. It was like the clouds parted and I immediately seized on this idea. I’m not sure why I couldn’t have decided to do that on my own – but it was the suggestion that seemed to light a fire. I carved out time in my schedule for all of those things and it was great!
At the beginning of the 90 Day Challenge – I prayed a prayer that I regularly encourage members at Eastside to pray … “God break my heart for what breaks yours; Stretch me beyond the place I think I can be stretched so that I can make a difference in the place of heartbreak; and You, Father, heal the brokenness in that circumstance and in my heart.” That is a tough prayer to string together. I mean it’s easy to let something break our heart… it can be easy to just go out and look for a cause where we can throw money or elbow grease at it to make a difference… it’s very easy to just pray – God, take care of this situation… But in all three, individually, we also find it easy to walk away. We experience heart break and don’t like the feeling, so we back away. We throw our resources at problems and feel good, and we back away to avoid having to really open our heart and chance it being broken… And the easiest of all – is to just pray for God to show up and be the hero. When we combine them though… that’s where we find balance… A broken heart that motivates us to step out and do something and trust that God will be the strength, courage, wisdom and provision that we need… life changes for those we encounter and for ourselves.
So that was my prayer at the beginning of this summer… and it didn’t really, full force, show up until this past week. And man did it ever show up… like storm clouds gathering out of nowhere…
A member of Eastside emailed me to tell me about the bullying her child was enduring at school. I remember reading that email, and literally hearing the despair in her words and physically feeling my heart break wide open.
I will tell you , that it’s not the first time bullying has effected me this way. I have experienced it personally, ashamedly I admit to doling it out at times in my past as a kid, and I have watched news stories onTV that brought me to tears (12 year old’s suicide, 13 year old boy’s suicide, 15 year old boy’s suicide)
So here I sit today, after the last few days of mulling and digesting and purposeful focus on the heart break that God revealed to me. And it’s a dangerous place to be. For all of us. We experience heart break and we step back and survey it and we start to focus on how overwhelming the situation is, how daunting the solution is to come up with, and we do nothing.
That is a huge part of the problem in the bullying epidemic. We have become a nation of people, or a large percentage of us anyway, who just choose to do nothing. Honestly, I think the reality is that bullying is a symptom of apathy. Apathy on the part of the parents whose children are bullies, apathy on the part of many school officials and teachers, apathy on the part of parents whose children have never been a victim nor ever been a bully. We either don’t see anyway to make a difference or we’ve never really opened up and let it affect us. I am guilty of all of that. But I won’t be anymore.
Here’s where I am now… I didn’t know at the time exactly why I was doing this but I met with the principal at my son’s school back at the beginning of my 90 Days to talk about an idea to get more involved. He told me he was glad because less than 1% of their school volunteers were dads… and when I say less than 1% i mean way less… like almost ZERO. I told him my idea was to bring in a program called WatchDOGS. It’s a nation wide program for dads through The National Center for Fathering. Little did I know then, that a small desire to get involved at my son’s school would serve as a timely mechanism to move forward in my “Break.Stretch.Heal” prayer.
Is this the solution to bullying? Is it going to be successful at my son’s school? Will other dads join in and be a part? All of these questions nag at me and I feel the old doubts and attacks creeping in already… to not do this… to not embarrass myself with a failure of a program that probably won’t make a difference… to not put myself out there… but I am not going to give into those thoughts/fears. I am going to do something. I am going to trust God to provide – in all things. I will DO something. I will not just sit by any longer. I will make a difference – not because of who I am… but because of who HE is.
If you prayed that same prayer, right now, and asked God to reveal where He would have you go, what He would have you do … What would it be? And if you pray it… are you ready to act? Pray for me that I will… and I will be praying for you.
Jason Rehmel is the Lead Pastor at Eastside Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati. If you are someone who has had a terrible experience(s) at a church or churches – stop by some weekend and give it one more shot with Eastside. Whether you have felt judged, or dismissed, or unwanted – wherever it has been – Eastside is different.