“A pilgrimage is a way of praying with your feet.”- Chasing Francis
Do you feel like a wanderer, someone without a spiritual home?
For a very long time I felt rooted. I grew up in a part of the United States where people were born, grew up, stayed, and died. There were generations of my family all one in place, and I could trace our history back for a century.
There’s something about this overseas life that reminds me of the journey I’m on, that makes me feel a bit rootless.
That’s the theme of Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale by Ian Morgan Cron. When I first met Chase Falson, our mega-church pastor main character, I got a bit bristly with him. It was obvious that he was destined for failure as he described himself in the beginning of this story. He seemed judgmental, egotistical, and a case of burnout waiting to happen.
We learn in chapter 1 that he had big plans to be the church-planting hero. “Truth be told, I wasn’t interested in working for a church someone else had built. I wanted to be the pioneer who ‘broke the code’ for the spiritually barren Northeast, heroically advancing the cause of Christ into the most gospel-resistant region of the country”. Yikes.
I thought about Chase Falson and how I might be like him. Well, of course not, I immediately retorted to myself. But then I remembered the times I thought I might be the overseas worker hero or wanted to be at least. I thought about how there came to be a time when I felt like that pedestal crumbled, when everything around me seemed to be falling apart. I realized I was trying to do it all on my own strength, and that breaking needed to happen.
It was painful, as I imagine we’ll keep reading about in Chase’s life. I had an awful lot of questions, like he did.
Have you had a moment where it felt like your foundation was shaken, where you questioned and doubted and felt like you were wandering in the desert? How did you hold onto hope and find healing?
One of the problems that Chase had, I thought, was that he wasn’t able to seek help without feeling ashamed. He met with a counselor, but under the guise of playing squash (a game like racquetball) so that people in his church wouldn’t find out.
This bothered me, and maybe that’s what the author intended so we would stop and think. There’s been a lot more openness and compassion related to mental health and seeing a counselor or therapist, and this is a very good thing. We shouldn’t have to hide when we need help. We shouldn’t be ashamed to take a brave step and find someone to talk to.
In our line of work, burnout can be a very real and debilitating struggle. It’s not something to be brushed aside, and it’s not something that we should be ashamed of either (although I get it, and I’ve been there). We might not have an uncle who lives in Italy, or be able to take a journey to learn about the life of a saint. But there are small but significant things that we can learn to implement to prevent or heal from burnout. Okay, I’ll stop preaching.
What did you think about the start of this book? Did Chase Falson rub you the wrong way like he did me? What do you know about the life of Francis of Assisi? I don’t know much, so I’m interested in seeing where the book takes us next.
Join us for the rest of Chasing Francis! Here’s the schedule:
January 14: Chapters 4-6
January 21: Chapters 7-9
January 28: Chapters 10-12, Epilogue