This post was originally published on Steven's personal blog
I remember driving up to Minnesota. I had just left Kansas City seeing some wonderful people in my life, and I feared what the next ten weeks held for me. Little did I know while driving, that I was going to be changed when I got to Minnesota.
I am ran by fear. Most of my life has been using fear to push myself to be the best person that I can be. And, even at some points in my life, to survive. When I entered the space of New City Church, I was being led by fear. Fear of being different, of failing, or even not being good enough. Up to this point, that is how I felt about the church: that I was not good enough as a gay man to be pursuing ministry the way that I am. Fear, which was and is normal, was heightened during my drive to Bloomington.
I had the mentality that I was coming to New City to work. To be taught and led so that I can lead and then finish off my degree at Duke. I was not expecting anything. I had learned to not expect anything. Instead, I was met with love and grace since day one. Of course, I denounced those feelings. My fear has taught me to take platitudes and not acknowledge them as they cause pain. But, as my time here grew, so did the love and grace that others gave me. An example of this is that I am not a “hug” type person. I do not hug often. But, EVERYONE at New City seem to be “hug” type people. “I love you” and hugs are always exchanged. And I was invited into this space. And people always respected my personal space, but they always made it known that they wanted to hug me. This was an interesting part of New City: that New City met me where I was at, rather than I meet them where they were at. I was being ministered to rather than me ministering to them.
Fear also drives me to be very organized. I do not do surprises or things without a plan. It has kept me safe and helped me deal with reality better. New City was a “curative” way of helping me to see this, and pushing me to change that ideology. This is not to say that New City is not an organized space, because it is, but maybe organized chaos. This “chaos” showed me that I do not take life as it comes, but I try to plan life. And no one can plan their life. I should know this, but I loved to think that I could control my life. Instead, New City showed me how to be a person of the Holy Spirit again. They did this by showing me to lean on the Spirit and be open to what She has for me each day in every way. This was another beautiful gift that I have missed in my life.
Now, thus far, you might think that I am just terrible or someone that is a jerk. But, if anything, this post shows how I think. And New City challenged that. Not in a bad way, but in ways that showed that fear did not need to control me as much as it does.
C. S. Lewis, a brilliant author and theologian, says this about friendship: “Friendship … is born at the moment when one [person] says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself [struggled that way]…’” And I can say with certainty, that I have made life time friends here. And why? Because New City showed me themselves and invited me in. They said, “We do these things,” and even when I do not do that same thing, or do not understand, they loved me anyways. Really, New City ministered to me more than I did them. They taught me to love the Spirit again, to love everyone that I see, and to be honest and to listen more than speak.
I will be driving similar roads again in a week or so. And I can say that, I will not be fearful. Not just because I will be going back to familiarity, but because, even though I will physically be traveling alone, I will never be alone. New City Church will always be with me. And for that beautiful reason, my life is forever changed.
Here is a picture of the staff and myself. I will love and miss these wonderful people: