Marc Alan Schelske

Faith, Belonging, and Community

It is no secret that I have struggled with being in relationship and community with others. I have struggled with myself, God, my family of origin, my children, friends, co-workers, acquaintances. Relationships have never been my strong suit.

It has been a lifelong struggle to feel like I belonged somewhere, anywhere.

The primary relationship I had with my mother was difficult and detached. I now understand that it was her own attachment and depression issues that created the emotional and psychological distance between us. Being disconnected from my mother, not having my father, continually moving and changing schools every year or two, and then no longer having any relationship with my mother and being under the guardianship of my uncle whose relationship skills and relationships with all of us around him were impaired and dysfunctional, meant that from a very early age and going all the way through adolescence, there was no relational tether to any one person or community that taught me I belonged.

I became the girl who tried too hard, stood too close, interrupted, talked too much, always had the answer, reacted too easily, and eventually acted out my pain by either getting too physical or using my words and intellect to establish dominance and superiority. When the going got tough, I got going and let go of the people who should have and could have been my strongest supporters because I believed that no matter how hard I worked, no matter what I tried – rescuing, fixing, having the answers, being the problem solver – it was never going to be enough to fit in. I didn’t fit in with the rebels and screw-ups because I wanted to do good and be better. I didn’t fit in with the achievers and winners because I was too guarded and unable to believe in my own worth and value.

I’ve spent the last 20+ years trying to be accepted, be loved, and be included. All the while, the things I tried to make it happen just fell short and I pushed away and let go of those who wanted to be there for me. I chased after the relationships with those who I thought would accept me because of the value I could be to them. Meanwhile, the critical relationships with my children and other family members were neglected and damaged in ways similar to how mine had been damaged by the adults in charge of me. None of whom were any more available or capable emotionally and psychologically than I have been.

The ENTIRE time, there has been One who has chased me down in so many ways, with so many faces, time, after time, after time to convey to me that I am loved, I am known, I am accepted, I am understood, and I belong.

Marc Shelske, the pastor of Bridge City Community Church, has been doing a teaching series on Ephesians and I have had the privilege of being present the past two weeks to hear his insights in person. Thankfully, when I need to revisit and recall what was shared, these messages can be found on the Bridge City Media YouTube channel.

Last week he talked about the fact that Zombies are biblical concepts and not just a current entertainment trend. It was very enlightening and a good reminder of things I’ve known intellectually, but never internalized on a personal level. This was the “before” picture of how I have operated with my lack of personal understanding and acceptance of God’s grace and mercy for me, in my life.

He continued the conversation this week and spoke about the “after” picture. What he described was exactly what has been happening inside of me, in my life, and in my relationships over the course of the past year and a half or so.

“As we get closer to God, we have the capacity to get closer to other people.” ~ Marc Schelske, 5/18/13, Bridge City Community Church

I was “saved” when I was 8 years old. I’ve been being “saved” my whole life. I’ll be 44 next month and I’m just now internalizing that being “saved” isn’t about not doing wrong or doing good, but it’s about God’s absolute acceptance and love for me because I am His creation, and that creation is not static, but an ongoing work of art, displaying and revealing the character and nature of God, the artist.

As I have allowed these realizations and understandings to sink into my being, without me having to work and strive through my own efforts, God has been closer to me, naturally and organically. As I have grown in my ability to just accept that God is with me and present in every aspect of my life, no matter what, my ability to connect and reconnect in relationship with others has been improving.

I started with the internet and the online communities available here in the blogosphere and on Facebook, with people who didn’t know me or my past who I felt safe exposing my self and my truths to. Slowly, others who have known me and shown me they care and want to be in relationship with me have gotten to know this part of my identity.

The lines are now blurred and I am fully engaged in supportive online communities which include people I see and engage with in person, in significant and meaningful ways. It is also increasing my connection to others who sincerely care, accept, and include me as part of their community, simply because I accept that I belong, I AM because GOD IS.

Hand: Six Word Friday

Would you lend a helping hand?

My friend, Marc, just posted this
He’s taking a risk, reaching out
His hand, asking for help
To achieve his dream. You’ve met
Him here in his Author Interview

A man in many roles, performing
Many tasks: husband, father, friend, pastor
A steward of many talents, sharing
His gifts: teaching, speaking, singing, writing

Help me to help him achieve
A dream he dares to believe

Visit Adrienne at My Memory Art for more Six Word Friday fun.

Reevaluating the great adventure

There’s this guy I know. We aren’t exactly friends, although we are friends on facebook and I like him and what he represents and how he communicates.  He’s a pastor and I first met him when he was working with youth at a church I attended about 15 years ago.  He baptized my son and he’s been pastoring in the church community that I am most connected to, in my head and heart, if not in my attendance and interactions.

I’ve held myself back and not really given him or many others a chance to be in my life with me.  Due to a lot of factors, I’ve done a lot of popping in and popping out, with very little engagement in the community.  Part of it has been my inability to just be social.  I can’t seem to interact with anyone without getting into some deep and detailed conversation about the challenges and difficulties.  Often, my attendance and presence was when I was completely overwhelmed and feeling lost and unable to cope with what was going on in my life and I was seeking out others to help me through, without understanding or being able to engage in more normal relational activities.

I began to tell myself a story about how he and others must see me: drama queen, addicted to chaos and conflict, narcisisstic and unwilling or incapable of participating in normal relationships.  Why shouldn’t they see me this way?  Underneath it all it is what I came to believe was true about myself.

Well, from way beyond the sidelines, far away from the outfield, I’ve been observing his path and his journey and realizing that he has been on his own path toward healing, recovery, and growth.  What? Really? This is someone who I have admired, envied at times, and ultimately assumed because from the outside looking in, he had achieved and accomplished things that I’d given up dreaming for.  He’s college educated.  He doesn’t just have a career, he’s been working in areas he’s passionate and equipped for.  He has pursued and honed his talents and actively worked to shore up areas that were challenging and weak.  Married, with children, and actively supporting his wife’s individual needs, dreams, and goals.  What could possibly have been present in his life to heal, recover and grow from?

Now, I don’t know the details, and I don’t need to know the details, because while they may have been absolutely critical in his journey and in his process to get to the point where he is today, they aren’t necessary in order for me to relate to who he is and what he’s offering today.  He’s done a lot of the kind of core-deep internal work on an emotional and spiritual level that is reflected and amplified through the messages he shares from the pulpit, from his blog, and now from his facebook author page, Marc Alan Schelske Your Life. God’s Artwork Ephesians 2:10.

Today is the official launch day and as a way to get the party started he asked a series of questions for us to respond to:

  1. What’s your favorite piece of art work (song, painting, sculpture, book, whatever) and why? (I Love You Forever because the artwork and story showed me love I’d never experienced and the kind of relationship I had hoped to build with my son.)
  2. If you were a piece of art, what kind of art would you be? Describe it in a single sentence. (My answer:  While I don’t consider myself a hero, I would be an epic poem. His response: I know a bit about your life. I’d say there’s a dragon or two in there, and some dangerous treks through dark territory. Sounds epic to me.)
  3. Go and read Ephesians 2:10 and then share what it says to you about your life. (My answer: Somehow, some way, all the things that I’ve struggled with and battled in my life are part of God’s workmanship and the person I’ve been, who I am, and am working to become is good, despite my feelings on the matter. His response: Re-read what you just wrote and tell me this. If the words you wrote are true, how does that make you feel about who you are? My answer: There is a deep well of grief and sorrow that is trying to rise up as I try to think about this. Fundamentally, I can’t seem to believe what I know to be true. His response: You are beloved, lady. Any other voice you hear is lying.)

Taking the time and answering these questions has brought me face to face with emotions I’ve been running away from and holding a mirror up for me to see the things inside of me that have been so difficult to look at directly.  Reading his responses to my answers shows me that I don’t have to keep it all to myself and try to stay in control of the process because there are others who are willing to accompany me on this journey in my real life, as well as my virtual one.

I have decided that I have to start interacting with people in my real world in real ways if I want to ever truly move beyond this self-imposed isolation.  However, due to a lot of internal and situational factors, interacting online is the best way for me to get started.  Having Marc take this step and open himself up as he works to achieve his goals and dreams is providing an opportunity for me to be as gut-wrenchingly real and honest with people who know me, as I have been with those of you who don’t.  He’s giving me a safe space to take some risks.  He’s challenging me to go outside of my comfort zone and dig deep.  Because he’s friends with Jerry and Jerry is also participating in this, that means I’m also opening up to him.

There are a few more questions and lots of answers from myself and others.  Even if you aren’t a “Christian” and don’t go to church or want to be “preached at” there is still value in exploring the concepts and processes, thinking about the questions, and reflecting on what is being shared.   Please visit and join me on this Great Adventure.