Holy Mess to Holiness

My most effective ministry has always centered on the experience of prayer. I really think this is our 10:10 sweet spot. It is not an academic exercise, but a deep love and longing for our Creator. One of the greatest lessons I learned when I was in full-time missions was that prayer didn’t always have to be ‘doing something’ (rosary, lectio, chaplets, novenas) but that it could also be just sitting with God, simply allowing Him to look at me. I love the idea of prayer being to allow God to look at exactly who we are and also allowing him to love our ‘holy mess’. I have done my best ministry when I spoke/ministered from a place of prayer. My talks that are the most effective I often think come from me being in a deep rhythm of prayer. I just listen to Him, reflect in my heart, and then say it out loud. Sounds strange, but when I’m in the flow, it works well. I think it’s the way to pray and work if we want to be fully alive.



To be FULLY ALIVE one must be willing to deal with fear. There are really only four options with fear: to avoid it and act like it’s not happening, to try to rationalize it, to attempt to side step it, or to walk directly into it… I have only grown when I face it head on and trust the results to God.


I hate roller coasters.


What are you afraid of? If we listen closely, what does our greatest fear teach us?


I remember the day my wife decided the two of us would have a day together at a local theme park. It promised to be a day filled with fun and laughter with the girl that I love more than life itself. The only problem was that I'm scared to death of roller coasters - and even more scared of heights. For the majority of the day I was able to avoid the inevitable. Our day was spent laughing and carrying on and then it happened…


Can you think of a time recently when your fear caught up with you?


Off in the distance I could see an enormous hunk of metal. What other saw as a thrill ride, I saw as a torture device created to crush the spirit of the enemy, and in this case… that was me. I quickly did the bravest thing I could do. I blocked my wife from seeing it!


Have you ever run from your fear? What “story” do you tell yourself in these moments to save face?


As big as I am, this did not work. As she saw the structure in the distance she turned to me and said, “What’s that? It looks like so much fun!” My next move was not my finest. I simply stated with a straight face, “I’m pretty sure that ride is off limits…” She wouldn’t listen. She encouraged me to ride it with her. I didn't know what to do or how to react and certainly didn't want her to see the fear that was welling up inside of me.


Think of a time when you heard the people around you call you to face your fears. Who was it? How did you respond?


As we got closer to it my heart beat faster and faster. I began to sweat profusely. I even considered faking sick, but thought it might be too obvious. The front car is what she chose for us. This was likely to be the end for me. I closed my eyes tightly and listened to the roller coaster’s angry noises as we crept up the first hill.


Then it happened. For some crazy reason, I decided to open my eyes. I risked stepping out. I ignored the voice of fear within me. I did my best Kate Winslet imitation from Titanic. I was alive and it was exhilarating. I had the ride of my life.


Our greatest fears are often affirmed or denied by the people closest to us. Ask someone you trust to speak into your fears and listen to their answer with your heart. Don’t argue or justify your fear, just listen. Then, consider stepping out.


You may have just overcome your greatest fear.

Joe Farris