Finding Yourself

I grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia, but I am more of a southerner at heart. I’m not saying that Virginia isn’t the South, but I was meant to be a small town southerner. That is where I found myself in 1998 – in rural North Carolina. What a culture shock at first! I had not found myself there.

I honestly didn’t begin finding myself until 2002 in a church in Hartsville, South Carolina. It was a primarily older congregation that gave me the liberty to mess up, learn as I went, and they loved me where I was. For the first time, I didn’t feel like how well I was loved was based on my performance. It was nice!

I went into another season of suppression after I left there. I had no freedom to carry out what God had put within me. I decided to use that as a time to prepare myself for a day when I would again have that joy of liberty in ministry. God gave that to me in 2009 when I returned to South Carolina. I once again found myself in a church that loved me where I was, followed my leadership, and was given the freedom to be me. I found that I could truly be who God called me to be and not apologize for it. I did not have to conform, and I have grown in that freedom since then.

I could not help but identify with the movie “Cars”. Lightning McQueen was a hotshot race car who landed in a “redneck” town called Radiator Springs. He despised the town and its cars, but the experience changed his life. He ended up longing for a slower pace in a place where others felt like family. He ended restoring hope to a town that was almost non-existent.

I feel like Lightning McQueen to some degree. I thought I knew who I was and wanted to be until I was exposed to something else. Part of that journey almost tore my life apart. I did not feel that I would survive, but God taught me my greatest lessons.

You can make your plans and set your goals, but life may take you some places and through some experiences that you would not choose but will make you better. You will discover that this is when you find yourself.

7 thoughts on “Finding Yourself

  1. I’m glad you found a place that you could just be you and not have to apologize for it. Some places and some churches can stifle your potential to be who you’re supposed to be if they force you to conform to their traditions, norms, and their inflexible church structure that promotes people into position on the basis of nepotism and not because it’s a person’s calling to be in that said position.If certain churches lack the flexibility to embrace something new that can stimulate further spiritual growth in their members with “out-the-box” thinkers, then it leaves room for complacency and stagnancy which can be frustrating to members who thrive on innovation (such as myself lol)- Trust me when I say, been there and done that….

    I must say, you give me the type of vibe of being an “Out-the-box” type of pastor with the way you write your posts that I thoroughly enjoy reading.

    I think that the dangers of conforming to certain people’s standards and traditional ways of doing things doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll easily bring about transformation in people’s lives if the environment outside the four walls of the church is constantly evolving. If anything, I think it’s important that we remain flexible to embrace the new things and idead God wants us to try out in order to remain relevant, effective and still maintain that balance of remaining grounded in the Word as the standard for our belief system.

    That’s just my 2 cents.
    Lovely post today.
    Sherline 😀

    1. I appreciate what you have shared. We must be flexible because God uses the flexible. Otherwise, He will make us flexible the hard way. I had to discover that most ministry happens outside the walls where corporate worship happens. It must happen in daily living. People will get all fake up in a “church service”. You tend to see the reality of who they are outside. I want the real so I can get past the facade and minister to the real need. I was trained to sit in an office like an executive, but it drives me crazy. Nobody ever went to Jesus’ office. He went to seek and save that which was lost. I can’t save them, but I can go and share the message as I go.

      1. I feel you on so many levels. I used to be a youth minister going through what I call “Church Politics” just in order to get certain things done in Youth ministry. I cannot believe the bureaucracy I had to get through just in order to get certain things moving. Some elder leaders were very inflexible to change and wonder why they don’t see growth. They too were instrumental in stopping certain projects from moving because they feared that their positions were being “threatened” and therefore were against anything new happening in the church just to maintain their vanity. I don’t understand those not willing to embrace new ideas and innovation but still keeping it “real” like you said…oh well..many lessons learned and obviously I had to move on. I’m now happy with the place I’m attending since they thrive on innovation and yet keep it real. The message remains relevant and still has impact on all walks of life and that’s what I want the Word to be especially for my generation and the younger generation rising. Just my 2cents.

  2. Sometimes God turns everything on its head in order to bring about great blessing… Been there. So glad you found places of grace where your gifts were fully appreciated and you were loved just as you are! That is obviously as it should be! 🙂 You have so much to give to the body of Christ! Love the faith and hope… and encouragement your story and post communicate! You inspire and encourage us all through God’s “rearranging.” God bless you, Matthew! Merry Christmas!

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