Kathleen Peterson

Storyteller & Missionary Disciple

90 Day Lock Up

90 days are a roller coaster, seem like forever, and feel like lock-up.

When I discerned out of 20 years of youth ministry, my spiritual director gave me guidelines to follow:

  1. No official ministry or job for one year giving me time to heal and learn to listen to the Lord.
  2. Find a hobby, discover something that I enjoy doing.
  3. Keep a schedule and be disciplined about it.

I’ve been obedient to these guidelines, fully understanding that it wasn’t my spiritual director who gave them to me but the Holy Spirit through her.

But, some things are harder than others.

I thought I would have a difficult time keeping a daily schedule; I don’t consider myself very disciplined. But keeping a routine has allowed me to keep my sanity and given me the greatest growth so far – probably because my day is scheduled around prayer time and daily Mass.

The new hobbies guide has been easy. I’m enjoying photography, creating Youtube videos, working on this blog and website, www.roaminkath.com. Just recently, Jerry sold his big canoe to buy two kayaks; we’ve been out on the water every chance we get. It’s been really good for us to keep active and something we can do together.

But, not everything has been peachy.

There have been emotional highs and lows with some moments in the healing process so intense that I’ve wondered if I’m bi-polar (a self diagnosis is “no”.)

These highs are the great joy that I find in prayer, at Mass, and kayaking with Jerry.

The intense lows also tend to come while in prayer. When I allow the pains of the past to come forward so I can acknowledge them then lay them at the foot of the Cross. I’m almost ready to forgive; I wish I could forget. But, I digress.

The most difficult guideline has been #1 on the list – no ministry for a year.

At first it was easy, mostly because working with youth has become difficult due to childcare protection policies, a lack of administrative support, shoestring budgets, parish and diocesan leaders who work in silos, apathetic parents…. the list goes on.

But, I miss the kids, I miss sharing my faith, and I miss the creative process that comes from planning and organizing events and developing retreats. I also enjoy building teams and empowering others to use their talents. This is where I probably receive the most satisfaction – witnessing others experience joy when using their gifts in service to others. Just thinking about all of this gets my heart beating faster!

But, something to know about me: I’m very impatient.

When someone says, “trust the process”, I get hives.

When I’m told, “let’s wait until we have more information”, I start to itch.

When my spiritual director says, “one year”, I pout. And, last week I took that pout to her and tried to rationalize every reason for jumping back into ministry. Lucky for me God placed a very strong spiritual director in my path, someone who can read my heart and soul.

She must be able to tell that I’m making some spiritual headway: the one year term has been shortened to 90 days with conditions.

The conditions: after 90 days I am able to do some volunteer work; nothing permanent, nothing professional, and nothing full-time.

While I’m grateful for this reduced sentence I’m getting antsy during these last few weeks of the 90 days. I often find myself daydreaming of how I might start a non-profit to minister to young women, volunteer to help end human trafficking, or study to become a StrengthsFinder trainer. If I don’t stop myself from entertaining these ideas my mind can really wander while I organize, plan, and try to save the world.

There are days when I feel like my hands are tied and I just want to break free.

If I’m experiencing a ‘low’, my mind goes to a dark place – to the time when I wasn’t living as a Christian (I’m not ready to blog about that yet) and the devil plays with my mind making me think that these 90 days are keeping me from doing God’s work. But, I know this is a time of healing so that I can be a stronger and more faithful disciple. These lows are fewer and father between while the joys are becoming more frequent and steady.

There have also been surprising new movements in my soul. Moments of spiritual clarity where my heart wants to remain still and bask in God’s love before I share it and myself with others again. These are moments that I’m holding on to because I know I can’t stay here.

Very soon I’ll be leaving the safety of lock-up and enter back into an active role of discipleship, helping others to understand their dignity, their gifts, and their adoption as sons and daughters of the Lord.

Until then, I’ll remain obedient and faithful to the process; practicing patience instead of trying to breakout.

Please pray for me as I pray for you.

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