it clearly didn’t make sense for me to re-fire up this blog under the name ysmarko. so, welcome to the “new” whyismarko.com! yeah, there’s a little play on words (or sounds) there; but the new name is also reflective of the stuff i’ve been wrestling with for the past year.
really, as i look back over the past year, i’m just stunned at how much god has been lovingly preparing me for this transition.
– last december, when i was told i had to re-organize youth specialties, there was a week or so when i thought i was supposed to leave also. it created a massive panic within me, that, in hindsight, i wouldn’t trade for anything. even when i settled back into my role, i was left with a new awareness that my identity and my work were completely enmeshed, in a very unhealthy way. i was struck with the question: if i were to lose my job for any reason, who would i be? and, the really disequilibrating bit of that was that i did not have an answer to the question. sure, i had the cognitive answers. but they weren’t “soul answers.” i started down a path of unraveling marko from ysmarko (the persona, not the blog). this resulted in lots of prayer and thinking, lots of conversations with my wife and a few trusted friends.
– in march, i began a one year leadership coaching program with john townsend. it’s a 360 style thing, where a team of 8 of us meet with john for a whole day, once a month, and have regular interaction on a closed networking site in-between. i was asked to share, at our opening meeting, what i hoped to get out of this program; and, among other things, i talked about this un-entwining i needed to delve into. in the months since then, this team has walked with me as i’ve wrestled and prodded and queried and cried. really, i can hardly imagine what this current transition would be like for me had i not been processing all of this with that group all year.
– in may, on a ys leadership team retreat, i was deeply struggling with these issues. and, in an exercise our consultant led us through, i had an imaginary conversation with a 60 year-old version of myself, who was worn out and tired, and spoke to me (it was kinda freaky!), saying, “you have to stop!” for about an hour or two, i was interpreting that as meaning that i needed to quit ys! but in a side conversation with our consultant, i realized that i needed to take a significant step away from my “ysmarko” persona, at least for a season. i knew in that moment that i had to shut down my blog, cancel my twitter and facebook accounts, significantly reduce my travel, and pursue presence (both with my family, and with the staff of ys during that difficult season).
– in june, i was still regularly struggling with anxiety over the thought of “well, what else could i even DO with my life?” i brought this up in with my coaching team, and townsend wisely counseled me that my constant stiff-arming of the question (which i saw as a distraction) was actually keeping me from presence. he encouraged me (it was actually my “homework” for that month) to do what felt counter-intuitive: to focus on coming up with some answers to that question, so i could then set it aside for now. i went on a silent retreat, and i met with our consultant (who is also one of my closest friends), and came up with a handful of buckets of things i could imagine being life-giving for me, if a “post-ys” time ever become a reality.
– then, the last few months have been a roller-coaster ride. and i was very emotionally prepared (as much as one can be, i suppose) for the news that i was being let go. even three days before it actually occurred, i connected the dots and walked into the meeting completely knowing what was about to go down.
all of this was god’s grace. all of this was god lovingly preparing me (and, i think, in a sense, preparing ys) for this current season.
oh — one more: a week before i was let go, i got an email from a youth worker i’d never met. she’d been at the ys convention in los angeles, and wrote about a vision she’d had. she expressed that she was uncomfortable emailing me about this, and that she’d never done this before – especially with someone she’d never met. but she’d been standing in the back of a big room (general session), and suddenly had this vision of a man standing at the foot of a mountain, with hiking boots in his hands. he was looking at the mountain, trying to figure out how to best start his climb. then, he noticed that there was a picnic laid out on a blanket next to him. it looked so inviting, and he was conflicted about whether to attack the climb, or sit and enjoy the picnic. she knew the invitation to the picnic was the real deal – the loving invitation of god to sit and rest in god’s love. then, she wrote that she felt god telling her, “this is for marko — i want you to share this with marko.” she wrestled with this, and tried to dismiss it, as she didn’t know me, and thought the whole thing was just too weird. but, weeks after the convention (and one week before i was laid off), she took the courageous step of emailing me, telling me this story, and writing, in the most understated way, “i don’t know if this means anything to you right now or not.”
i was blown away. and that image of the picnic blanket laid out on a grassy hill, with cool fall breezes blowing, and yummy picnic food, has stuck with me in a profound way over this last month.
so, other than the cutesy play on words/sounds, that’s why this blog is now called whyismarko. i’m not done figuring all this out — that’s for sure! but, even when i do land in some other role, i want to be a new man and a new leader. i want to be confident in who i am as a child of god, a husband and father, and as a leader; and i want to lead from those places.
and now, the technical stuff: i’ve reset feedburner, and the 500 or so of you who were subscribed to the old blog shouldn’t experience any problems. but if you do, just drop that feed, and subscribe to this one. with the help of a friend, all the old ysmarko stuff should be here, but it might take a week or so for all the images to work. and i’m sure there will be technical glitches we haven’t foreseen. if you still have a link on your blog to ysmarko, i’d greatly appreciate it if you would update that to this URL. i’m still not going to re-start my twitter account; but please do feel free to tweet this new URL.
i’m very stoked about reconnecting with the conversation, thinking, and fun we’ve had on this blog in the past. i’ll not be posting with the frequency i once did, because i refuse to become obsessed with this thing. but i expect i’ll show up here a few times a week for now, and see where it goes.