More than OK

by Keisha Polonio

When six gunshots rang out, I froze. Each shot was clearer and louder than the one that came before it. I bent low to the ground in fear of being hit by a stray bullet. Then, I waited. I waited until it was still and heard no more gunfire. I waited for the commotion to settle outside before I moved or took another breath. When it had all calmed down, I checked on Ryan who was doing dishes in the kitchen, he was ok.

My brother, who lives next door, called me asking, “Are you Ok?”

I rushed upstairs to check on the boys. My beautiful black boys. I was trying not to think the worst, but the swiftness in my steps showed my concern. I just needed to see their faces and touch their little hands. I switched on their bedroom light, not caring if they were sleeping or not, to ensure I could see them clearly and not in the shadow of the night. Their snores and whining let me know that they were ok.

I retreated to my bedroom when another text, from our friends down the street, came in and asked: “Y ’all Ok?”

Am I ok? I had to stop myself and really ask, Am I really ok?

In the stillness of my dark room, I let that question wash over me. I let it sink past those places of complacency and shallowness. I let it go deep, allowing myself to connect to the harsh reality of the broken world I live in. I had to allow these six gunshots to ring out to my soul and awaken me to the reality that being ok is never enough.

There has to be more than just being ok because Jesus has called me here. He called my family to live on THIS street and serve God’s children in the inner city. Jesus is not ok with the gun violence, the sex industry and child abuse that happens here. He is not ok with homelessness, massive incarceration rates and poverty. Jesus is not ok with the darkness that seeks to snatch the lives of His precious creations, so how could I be?

I started to pray. Not for myself…but for my neighbors who are fathers, sons, grandmothers and wives. I started praying for them by name. Calling out to the Lord who already knows them deeply and has never forsaken them. I prayed for the King of Glory to come in power and bring revival and restoration. I asked Jesus to come to my neighbors, my street, my city because we need more than OK. We need HIM. I prayed for a heart that would never be satisfied with an “OK” again.

As someone who has been involved in ministry over the years, I have come to learn that leadership is not only about the work that we do with our hands, but the content of our hearts. It’s the way we engage Jesus when no one else is looking. The way we wrestle, lament and press into the things that the Lord is teaching us during every season. It’s the way we don’t settle for OK moments but search for the heart of God when we are unsure and afraid. As missional leaders, we constantly need to do heart checks. Let us not become too busy going and doing that we forget to engage the One who has sent us.

In Jo Saxton’s book, More than Enchanting she uses an acronym tool called HALT — Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired — to help us, “discover the state of our hearts.” She writes that when we stop and begin to dig in, “we discover some things that we don’t want to admit about ourselves, we may find we reconnect with past or present hurts or have to face wounds or failures.” She goes on to say that as missional leaders we are not the best at, “admitting our vulnerabilities, particularly to ourselves.” And she is right! We don’t go there. We don’t dig as deep as we should and we don’t do the heart work that Jesus is calling us to do.

Let’s dive into the HALT acronym and answer the following questions as a community of devoted women! Jo recommends that you process each question, “slowly and with raw honesty, allowing God to shine his light on our lives when necessary.” Let’s pull out our journals and go there! Are you with me? I really hope you are!

HALT

More Than Enchanting, pgs 88–99

Hungry

  • What do your eating habits say about you? What do your drinking habits say about you?
  • What hidden habits do you use in an attempt to satisfy your hunger?

Angry

  • So what do you do when you are angry- Do you internalize it or do you lash out?
  • How does anger affect your capacity to lead in the position God has given you? How does it shape your influence?
  • What do we do when we become angry? About leadership concerns or about anything else?

Loneliness

  • Is loneliness the cost of female Christian leaders breaking through into positions of influence?
  • Do you feel loneliness in leadership?

Tired

  • How do we function when we’re tired?
  • Has our love for the Lord been eroded by prayers that lie unanswered?
  • How does that affect our leadership and what we say to those we lead and disciple?
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