**I apologize for any content which comes across as too raw, vulnerable, insensitive, crass or incoherent. Please extend me a large helping of grace as you read. I promise to be responsible and accountable. With this as the primer, allow me to provide this historical fact about me: I’ve been told that I “think too much” since before college. My fraternity brothers were regularly prodding me to “lighten up.” I take it as a compliment in an unorthodox way. I find vindication in a recent Slate article (slate.me/1b892o9) which notes that intelligent people have more anxiety, hence the title “smart worrier.”
I balance this with Ecclesiastes 1:18 which prompts us to recognize that “…with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief (i.e., stress).”
I am a thinker. I analyze and reflect on possibilities and contingencies involving multiple players and variables of events that may or may not happen…also known as stress or worry or anxiety. I like to refer to it as “process.” As I’ve learned in the Army and in ministry, as well as through my dad, father-in-law, and a few great mentors – “if you fail to plan then you plan to fail.” Planning requires a ton of process if you’re part of a family or a team. Multiply that exponentially if you’re an introvert.
Stress isn’t to be avoided, rather engaged…positively and with a healthy dose of prayer. Admit it, then steal and convert its momentum.
Positively dealing with stress is a requisite for leadership… whether within our families, at our workplaces, or even something as simple as talking with a friend through a difficult situation. The worst thing to do is Catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is wasting critical energy ruminating about irrational worst-case outcomes which prevents you from taking purposeful action.
I recently confessed to the pastors with whom I work, that I am an iceberg of thought: there’s more under the surface than what is visible (aren’t we all?). One of the pastors suggested that these online journal entries could very well be a form of free therapy. The articles that follow will likely involve both positive process and unfortunate catastrophizing. So, again, I ask for your grace.
May YHWH-God keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. (Genesis 31:49 NIV)
I have yet to leave. We’re months away from deployment. However, this doesn’t assuage the mounting tension, sorrow, anxiety, and doubt of the looming goodbye.
I cherish each touch, every ‘off-to-work’ kiss, that hidden gaze that embarasses her when discovered, those few Saturday mornings where Gabe’s oversleep allows us to snuggle, and those evening drives to “help Gabe fall asleep” which we use as an excuse for a quick escape to Starbucks. These are momentos which I have too often ignored or shared without cognition. I will miss holding Katherine’s hand…so much comfort, nurture and confidence is there.
I make sure I drop Gabe off at preschool every morning, even if that means I’ll be 15 minutes late into the office. Lately, I’ve left the office early some days so I can pick him up. There’s nothing like seeing the happiness on Gabe’s face when I sneak in to pick him up. I try not to waste a day off when I get one, whether we go to the zoo just to play on the playground and eat a “hotgog” (in Gabe speak), or invade the beach in the big way in which Gabe enters the sand and water. I’ll miss his giggles.
“Compensation” is the term used by the Army Behavioral Heath experts to denote the efforts Soldiers and their family members undertake to make up for time that will be missed. This happens on both ends of a deployment. It can introduce it’s own kind of anxiety and pressure.
Don’t interpret me as bemoaning this deployment. I feel called to this role as my battalion’s chaplain. I embrace it as YHWH-God’s call on my life. I anticipated the potential of a deployment as an acceptable eventuality of being an Army chaplain. However, do not equate “calling” to “easy.” It’s usually just the opposite.
I love God. I love Katherine. I love Gabe. I love my Soldiers. It’s not equal, but symbiotic. Calling is an integrated endeavor.
I can’t help but ask…what is God’s call requesting of you?
Across a comfortably cluttered desk, I embark on lancesellon.me and the journey to be chronicled over the next 16 months and beyond…
A friend suggested that I should start this site as a way to share and also chronicle my thoughts and experiences as Army Chaplain, husband, dad, brother, son and your friend during my upcoming “journey” (a.k.a. deployment) with my unit in the Florida Army National Guard.
Another friend, Paul, stated that I needed to share this experience because, in his words, “Christ calls us to sacrifice and suffer… we need to hear and learn about what that looks like through your story.”
I never considered this…I just thought this deployment was going to be something I had to get done without much interest by others. But Paul triggered an awareness of our need to bear witness and suffer with one another as we follow Christ together.
Thank you for sharing this journey with me. Here we go…