Hi there. I’m Darrell and I’m powerless in far more ways than I am powerful. Specifically, I’m powerless over the lie that my life is all about me.
I first experienced powerlessness as a child. I am the oldest of eight children, and though my parents loved us deeply, they were often stretched to the breaking point emotionally, spiritually, and financially. When they approached or passed their breaking point, my life often became unpredictable and insecure. I tried to counterbalance that by being especially “good” so as to relieve the tension I perceived in my environment. I soon learned that my behavior was seldom influential enough to offset the chaos around me.
I felt even more powerless as a teenager, so I was gratified to discover the calming, even numbing effect of alcohol and drugs. For a while substance use and abuse worked to offset my anxiety over my powerlessness. Then it stopped working and added to my sense of being out of control.
I had a bit of a religious awakening shortly after I turned 20. It seemed miraculous at the time. I thought I had discovered how I could have power where I had previously had none. And to be fair, learning to turn things over to a power greater than myself did help me tremendously. Unfortunately, participation in a Christian faith community quickly fed into my learned behavior of trying to control my environment through virtuous action. When that didn’t work as well as I hoped, I elevated my game. I became a youth minister, then went to seminary, and eventually became an ordained minister and pastor.
Along the way I stopped drinking and using drugs. Members of the 12-Step programs supported me for years as I learned to live a sober life. I will be forever grateful to the many people who walked with me through that process. If I could have embraced being a “friend amongst friends” and a “worker amongst workers,” as they often prescribe in the rooms of 12-Step programs, I might have found the peace I sought.
Filling a religious leadership role, though, fed the lie for me. I often fell into the belief that if I just worked hard enough, acted virtuously enough, and loved passionately enough I could become the conduit for divine grace, forgiveness, compassion, and peace. At times that actually seemed to work, and those brief periods just sunk me further into the lie.
I had something else going for me, though. I’ve always been fortunate enough to have a profound connection to the divine. Through all my challenges, it was that connection that sustained me and allowed me to keep searching for truth. I knew, in moments of profound silence and deep meditation that my life was never all about me and it never would be.
Together with the teachings of the 12-Steps, my deep spirituality assured me there was a better way. In those moments I felt free…and I felt terribly ashamed. I would beat myself up for falling into the lie once again. Guilt and shame kept me trapped. It placed me firmly back under the influence of the lie. If only I could trust God enough, live virtuously enough, be good enough—everything would be OK.
Q Faith Community brought together, for me, the unmerited grace of the divine and the teachings of the 12-Steps. Most importantly, the structure of Q meetings reinforced that I am just a human being amongst human beings, a friend amongst friends, and a worker amongst workers. I didn’t need to be the virtuous leader, the wise sage, or the holy man. In fact, members of Q called me out when I began to fall into one of those roles. I was gently called back into being me.
Q Faith Community doesn’t try to teach anyone how to behave. We teach people how to be together and by being together how to be awake to the continual presence of the divine. We know that every person has experience, strength, and hope worth receiving. We gather, we listen, we share, we receive, we give, and in the process we learn that doing those simple things is enough. We learn that we can’t be what anyone else needs, but we can walk with them while they discover the Source that can fill their need.
So today, thanks to so many ordinary, imperfect, loving people I’m not a leader, a pastor, a minister, or anything else that might set me apart. I’m just Darrell, I’m at peace, and I’m ready to hear you, to receive you, and to share what I have. And I trust that will be more than enough. Thanks for listening to my story and for being present today at Q Faith Community.