this post first appeared on yearofthejohnny.blogspot.com on February 8th, 2015
I was reminded how important mentors and life coaches are needed to guide me in my recovery and success. Once again going to worship on Sunday was fulfilling. I am very happy today because Actually, the feeling is more victorious. Listening to Ryan give a sermon fills me with a positive feeling for the day and a reason to exercise my brain.
Yesterday I went to Lower Manhattan Community Church (LMCC) for Sunday worship with my Christian friends in lower Manhattan. The first time I attended worship, I felt a genuine sense of belonging, community. Randy, a member or the congregation convinced me to attend a few years back. I am glad he was able to get me to wade through the murky waters I let surround my world and God. He was not the one to raise the walls that I constructed, but I guess I have to give him and the men’s homophobic Friday am group some credit. Ha. I would have breakfast with these guys every Friday, in the financial district. Most of them were handsomely dressed with not one hair out of place and then there was me, homeless and hairy. I eventually stopped going for a few reasons: the owner of the restaurant trash talked me whenever he saw me panhandling at 100 Broadway, the spiritual group was not very spiritual and the whenever a gay man was discussed they did not hold back any stereotypical homophobic slurs.
Nonetheless, their job was complete, I met my personal pastor, Ryan. He has made me take back negative generalizations I have stated about Christians. He didn’t personally do this because he doesn’t know of my pathetic rhetoric I wrote about academically or lyrically. I think twice now before I trash talk Christians and more importantly Christian pastors, even though snapshot from this same church totally lived up to those negative expectations. Ryan is highly intelligent, a great critical thinker a Philosopher. He truly lives and enjoys doing God’s work. I believe that he was doing what he did for me out of genuine concern and love. Now those of you who personally know me are thinking, Johnny has a crush on a priest, what next? Well, my goodness, I don’t. I love Ryan and all he has done for me, period. He has succeeded where so many have failed concerning me and my issues with God. He has not by any means saved me, but he has allowed me to feel my guilt and shame and work through it.
He makes everything seem so simple to achieve. He is able to do this because he listens when a person is speaking to him. He is not off in his head thinking of the next string of words to speak. He is not one of those people that don’t listen to what you’re saying because he was too busy preparing what he had to say next. As he listened to me go on and on about my stolen innocence he heard the anger in my voice and for the first time, I did too. When I finally came up for air he said, “Your problem is not believing in God. You are quite angry with him. You need to go somewhere and yell at him, get it over with, and carry on. All the bible greats had their arguments and issues with God. You can do this Too, but in order to get over the anger, you must talk with him.” Not so Simple to do. The words, “How can a God let this happen to such a little boy,” were enough for him to figure this anger out.
Ryan has helped me to get through many personal problems and find answers to questions I have had about religion and God. He has helped me to end my foolish personal war with the Catholics. I think Pope Francis has done some work concerning that problem of mine, too. I will not go into much more detail here about my coach’s help. He has given me hope. Now I am learning how to have faith. Napoleon Hill is teaching me how to have faith. I am sure Ryan would agree with Hill. Today during service, which was about how to pray, Ryan made a statement concerning his doubt in his genuineness. He was making a statement concerning people misuse of power within the church. He then made a statement concerning his doubt about himself. As I was considering his statement while walking to the subway after church I thought of The War of Art and when Pressfield states that a true artist doesn’t brag about his creations or work, and continually questions whether he is an actually an artist. This is my personal pastor. He is genuine. He is unique. He is the epitome of Christian and if all men and women and Christ walked a path like Ryan then God’s earth would not feel all of our weight day in and out.
I learned a lot from the folks at LMCC. About myself, I learned that I am not an atheist, that I do have a personal relationship with God, and that I need mentors in my life to succeed. I found several mentors among the LMCC community. Ryan, Randy, Gary, Matthew, and Cara are members who have truly touched me on a personal level, provided inspiration more than once when I wanted to give up, and always had time to listen to my questions or complaints. I learned some things about Christians, too. I learned that not all Christians are not bright eyed, brain-washed religious fanatics who are trying to save someone. Sadly I feel that two members of the congregations felt that I was their saving grace. If they could SAVE me they could save anyone.
I had looked up to these men, looked at them as mentors, too. They had their own agenda so it is recommended that before a coach is chosen one must watch that person’s path closely. This happens in recovery often. A person enters into AA and finds a sponsor, but the sponsor has his own agenda.
Some things to look at in a great sponsor or mentor are as follows:
- Does this person walk the walk and not talk just talk a good recovery. Integrity, lead thru example, and true balance within their life.
- Does your sponsor teach thru I messages, but at the same time understand everyone’s path is different?
- Does your coach understand your individuality and that you need to learn through action?
My personal pastor is all these things. One could say very Socratic in his methods, too. Even though there are a few within the ranks at LMCC that have caused me to question the integrity of the mission it is okay because I understand that everyone has their own approach to life now. A few years ago I was angered by these actions. Once again, Ryan helped me to understand the process and how to overcome this anger.
My trust in Ryan has helped me overcome much fear in my life. He has led me to understand my anger and relationship with a higher power. Most importantly he has kept me working towards a higher purpose and meaning to answer all the “whys and what ifs” in my life.
Hey Ryan and LMCC thanks. If you want to experience the community and support of LMCC , please attend a Sunday morning worship. Worship begins at 10:30. Photos borrowed from www.Lowermanhattancommunitychurch.com