Why I Have Been Gone for so Long
Kristopher S. Shoemaker
R. Yehudah “Tochukwu” ben Shomeyr
This past year I’ve taken a ministerial sabbatical. At the time I was in a very bad place, physically, mentally and spiritually. My nerves were shot, I was depressed, stressed out, not sleeping well at all. My allergies and asthma, was out of control. I jumped at every little thing as if I had PTSD. Overthinking and fearful about virtually everything, having a constant and nagging feeling something bad was going to happen and I lived constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. I lived with a constant nervous and upset stomach. I was nervous and edgy and snapped angrily at my loved ones over every little and petty thing. I had an over inflated view of my importance in that I felt the world would fall apart or I’d be letting people down if I didn’t update the website, write or post a video, blog and or commentary. I lost my identity, I forgot who I was, who God created and called me to be; trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations of me and my calling. I had no peace, no rest; I couldn’t concentrate or think straight. My adrenals were almost shot. I was becoming very ill on so many levels.
Prior to my yearlong sabbatical I had a couple of false starts, a week, 2 weeks, month long sabbatical here and there. Thinking it’s all I needed, all I could afford and jumped back in thinking everything was fine, only to end up again at the end of my rope a week or month down the road. I was burnt out and it was costing me everything. My ministry, my marriage, my relationship with my daughter, as well as family, friends and colleagues. I’m glad I finally surrendered to the process and realized everything wasn’t going to blow up if I took a year off.
I had to regain my health, physically, mentally and spiritually. I had to find myself again. I realized ministering, (if you want to call it that in my current state) in that state I was in was slowly killing myself and not doing myself or anyone I ministered to any good because I wasn’t at my best. In essence I was cheating everyone and God because He couldn’t use all of me. If I was a gas tank I would have been running on fumes. For this I wish to apologize to everyone and ask for your forgiveness.
The first think I did was announce on all my social media accounts that I was taking a yearlong sabbatical and to please not to disturb me during this time. Everyone graciously obliged, understood and respected that, and I am every so grateful; thank you. Then I went dark on social media for a few months. I didn’t check messages or mail, I never posted, blogged or tweeted. Let me tell you it was liberating!
I began by hanging up my kippah, tallit, tefillin and siddur; putting away everything Rabbinical or Judaic, even to the point of not following the weekly Torah portions and consulted nothing but my Bible. I cut loose from all custom and tradition. I stripped myself down spiritually to the raw, bare bone basics and did my best to walk in the footsteps of Yeshua Ha Moshiach by walking and following in the Torah as He did. I tried to live as if I didn’t have access to anything but the Word. As if I lived in such a place that forbids everything but the Word. Why? Because I found myself keeping form and function out of ritualistic rote and obligation that accompanied false guilt when I failed to follow through or measure up. Why? Because I found myself mechanically dancing the dance but not being intimate with my Partner, God. I sorely needed to cultivate my personal and intimate relationship with HaShem again. And if I found Him again, I’d surely find myself.
Relieving myself of every ministerial duty, custom and obligation, it not only soothed my spirit, but found it was a valve releasing mental pressure like a steam boiler. I felt for the first time in a long time I could breathe!
I began changing my diet, eating right and taking vitamins and supplements as well as began an exercise program consisting of stretching, jogging, boxing and weight training. I realized that being a tricomatic being, being spirit, soul and body, that if I felt ill in one area of my being it would bleed into and affect the others. If I felt bad physically it would have an influence on how I felt mentally and spiritually.
I started to do things I enjoyed and relaxed me such as reading novels, hiking, camping, biking, writing poetry, playing music and drawing. I began to reconnect and spend quality time with my wife and daughter and re-establish and cultivate more intimate and meaningful relationships with them. I had to do a lot of repenting and asking for forgiveness from them for the ways I neglected them and put ministry before them. Putting ministry first is NOT the same as putting God first! I failed to realize that fact.
During this time an old college and society brother heard of my health crisis and sent me the book, “A More Excellent Way to be in Health” by Henry Wright found at www.beinhealth.com. It really caused me to face myself and the demons I allowed to influence my life as well as ones I created. It took me months to read that book because I would read a few paragraphs and have to walk around and pray about what I just read. Slowly, layer by layer I began to deal with issues that were making me sick; finding the spiritual root that manifested as my physical illnesses. Fear and Bitterness I discovered was the root cause of my allergies and asthma, adrenal fatigue and insomnia. There were many people I had to contact and forgive for the things they had done to me that I was holding against them.
During the reading of the book I felt led to wean myself off of my meds. I took half doses for about three months and then one day, I felt the LORD say to me, “You’re done, no more.” By the time I finished reading the book and applying what I had learned I was delivered of fear and bitterness and therefore healed of allergies and asthma. My adrenal glands slowly began to recover and my hypothalamus was returning to homeostasis and allowing me a more restful and restorative sleep. When I saw my doctor and told him all that had happened he was ecstatic, giving me a smile and thumbs up! I have the good fortune of having a Believer for a doctor.
My friend that sent me the book informed me of a conference in the states based on the book where I was able to better apply what I had learned in the book. When it was all said and done, I was totally healed and med free! No allergy pills, no inhalers. The only thing I took was a few vitamins and supplements.
In the process of my healing I found myself again. The God given personality I had lost by suppressing under a veneer of what I thought the public expected a Messianic Rabbi should be. Now that I am unapologetically me, I feel liberated, free and for the first time in over a decade I am genuinely happy!
To publically testify of my healing and give glory to God, on August 1st, 2015, I ran my first 5K without the aid of any meds or inhalers in 27 minutes, better than average for my age group! God is still in the healing business!
During this time as I drew closer and more personally intimate with The father, I regained a healthy relationship with Hebraic culture, customs and traditions and slowly integrated them back into my life. I now put Torah and Commandments before Tradition and Culture.
I now intuitively feel a keen and healthy balance physically, mentally and spiritually. I have a deeper, more meaningful relationship with my God, my family and friends and a greater understanding of who I am, who God created and called me to be!
As a result I better understand the online ministry God has given me stewardship over. I am not a “Pastoral” Rabbi, I have no, nor desire to, have or run a congregation. My calling online is to edify and educate by teaching, that’s it. To put the teachings out there and let the Holy Spirit do the rest in whoever receives the teachings. My job is not to debate or counsel long distance, or be the Torah answer man for everybody, but to study and teach the Word. As far as here local, in the real world, God is slowly revealing to me what my assignment and calling is here in the community in which I live.
I do hope this will help other ministers and laity who may be burnt out as I was. There is Hope, God is not finished with you yet!
Shalom and blessings in Messiah Yeshua,
Kris Shoemaker (R. Yehudah “Tochukwu” ben Shomeyr)