A Year in Review: 2018

2016 was a dumpster fire of a year, a torrent of damage. It’s no exaggeration to say it was by far the worst year of my adult life. 2017 was a year of recovery, not in the good way, but more in the sifting-the-ashes-of-your-burned-home-through-a-screen-box kinda way. 2018 was a year of new direction. But you wouldn’t have known that from the way the year started….

I usually set 8-12 goals for the year, spread across the categories of Body, Spirit, Calling, and Relationship; I’ve been doing this for years. (I generally only hit about 60% of my goals, but that’s way better than I ever did with New Year’s resolutions, so it’s all good.) By the time I’d dragged myself through 2016 and 2017, I was in no shape to choose goals. I tried, and I just couldn’t do it. Nothing made sense. I found myself incapable of believing any set of goals I put on paper. I didn’t know what to do.

And then, as so often happens at those moments, God spoke. He told me if I wanted to take the safe road, get a bodywork job working for Hand & Stone or whoever, and do another season of true bivocational work–one job to pay the bills, and a ministry gig on the side–that there was a job out there for me, and it was ok to do that. I’d done that before; it’s a tough life, but I understand how it works, and it’s known territory for me. But God also told me that wasn’t the only road open to me. If I wanted to go for the dream, He would support that too. The dream was…poorly defined, to put it mildly. But I knew exactly what He meant: I could live a life that seamlessly blended my ministry and my livelihood, a life where all my gifts came into play together. It was what I’d been dreaming of my whole adult life. I thought I had it, briefly, a bit over a decade ago, during the short time when I was a full-time professional geek…but no. That turned out to be too sterile, too one-dimensional. And it didn’t last anyway.

God told me (via a prophetic friend that I deeply trust, and confirmed various ways) that my dream life was now within reach…if I was willing to take the risk. I thought about the safe road, and the security it offered, and waiting another five years (or however long) before this opportunity came my way again. And then I muttered something like, “Oh, what the hell, it’s too late to start playing it safe now,” and went for it.

I kept my freedom and plowed into developing my business and my ministry, all at the same time. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and let me tell you, it showed. My marketing was beyond amateurish. My bookkeeping needed serious help. I had poor judgment in my partnerships. (I had some great partners, but also some that were…well, let’s just say not great, and leave it there.)

But you know what? God supported it. Clients came. The business side got (somewhat) organized. God winnowed out the partners that didn’t belong. The bills (somehow!) got paid. In a month when the bottom fell out of the bodywork business, I inexplicably got extra ministry funding; when the ministry funding dried up, suddenly more massage and Trauma Touch clients came my way. I had day after day when I went home, sat down, and thought, “YES! This is why I do what I do!”

And after a year of that, I finally have clarity on what God has given me to do. Back in early 2015 when I first started my business, God told me clearly that there were four skills that would define what I do. I tried to list them, and every list I made came out to three or five. I could never quite get a list of four that made sense…until now.

The four skills that define my calling are

  • Massage Therapist
  • Minister
  • Trauma Touch Therapist
  • Martial Arts Instructor.

Those are the four corners of my existence; I play in the space between them. And the center, the bullseye, the place where it all comes together? Spiritual healing that takes the body seriously. That is the center of what I do. Of course, depending on the needs of the moment, sometimes I’m just giving a massage or whatever service they came for. But often–very often, in fact–I find myself holding a space where God shows up, and my client receives spiritual healing. That’s what I do.

A year ago, I couldn’t say that without feeling silly. After a year of doing it, seeing God bless it and people blessed by it, I don’t feel silly at all. I feel like I have purpose again. I know what I’m shooting for; I know what I’m asking God to bless.

And I am asking. I don’t want to bury the talent in the backyard; I want to put it to work in the marketplace. Let’s grow this thing.

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