Each week at the end of our Wednesday night class, I am challenging students to reflect on and even journal through some deeper questions that arise from the stories of these characters. I call this exercise “Character Development.” Not only do we look at how each particular character grows, changes, and develops through the narrative, we also ask ourselves how WE are growing, changing, and developing. But this isn’t just an exercise for the students. I am participating, too. In a show of solidarity (and some vulnerability), I am going to post my answers to these Character Development questions for all to read. Though I am a minister, I am far from perfect. I wrestle with many of the same issues that our teens and their families are wrestling with.

You can read Hagar’s story in Genesis 16 & 21. (Our class on Hagar was from January 11.)

1. What problems are you running from?

I feel like I am constantly running away from my past. Like if I can somehow put enough distance between me and the past/memories of the past, then I can really be the person I want to be – which is SO much different than who I was. I want to believe that given enough time and distance, then the old wounds will heal and the holes will be filled in. And that’s sort of true. But it makes it that much harder to go home and face my past all over again.

2. What problem(s) do you have that just won’t go away?

My own self-esteem issues and insecurities. Just when I feel like I’m in a good place, something happens and makes me second-guess myself and my ministry. I take things so personally. A lack of commitment or participation from others feels like a judgment on me as a minister and a person. I wish I could remain more confident in the fact that I am loved by God and my worth is not tied to any outward performance.

3. Does the thought of being seen by God in your weakest moment frighten you or comfort you? Why?

The thought of being weak frightens me. I feel the need to constantly be strong, to be productive, to be successful, to be my best. The thought of weakness and failure terrifies me. But to know that God sees me, looks after me, and loves me at my weakest? That’s a relief. It’s so hard for me not to equate success with love. Love, respect, admiration are all things to be earned (in my mind). But not with God. God looks beyond the outward appearance and into the heart. I don’t often reveal my heart to people, even those closest to me. But God knows. And to be known is to be loved.

4. Give God a name.

El Mibtahi – God is My Confidence / The God who Instills Confidence
I believe in the God who believes in me

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
(Psalm 3:3)