As some of you know, my ministry is going through a rough patch right now. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in ministry, lay and ordained (admittedly, mostly the former), I’ve been in the work force a while, I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday. But the last few months have been the most difficult I have ever endured, by far.
Back in November, I went to a denominational conference. I had a wonderful time—worked my surplice off, but I had a great time. I learned good stuff; attended amazing worship; connected with old friends, renewed friendships, and made new friends; raised my profile among my colleagues (which may or may not be a Good Thing); and was energized to come back and put some of those new ideas into place.
I came back and hit a brick wall.
Now, people who know me will tell you—I’m not exactly the bulldozer type. I didn’t come back and try to impose stuff on people. I don’t lead by commanding folks to fall in line. If anything, I’m too much the opposite—I try to seek consensus when sometimes I should just lay down the law. So the wall didn’t come from resistance to my insistence. Perhaps the wall had been there all along, and I just hadn’t noticed it until I was away for a while, getting some affirmation and opening myself to new opportunities and ideas, getting some support for who I am and the work I’m doing. And then when I came back, all charged up and ready to go, there it was, in the way.
It hurt big time.
And I have continued to beat against that brick wall. RDQ and I were going to dive into new ministry patterns together…I think I jumped into an empty pool.
It’s gotten a bit better in the last few days—a lifeline or two has been thrown my way, and I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel—unless it’s an oncoming train (to mix metaphors beyond belief).
On my other blog, Lavender Chronicles, I’m talking about the possibility of a doctorate. For a while I wondered if my interest was related to my recent frustrations, and it is, but not in terms of a way out of this situation. It’s not that I’m contemplating running away to a doctoral program to avoid dealing with this situation. I’m very clear that I’m not leaving here voluntarily. It’s more that considering the possibility of a doctoral degree gives me a focus beyond this congregation, reminds me that there are other options out there just in case, gives me a constructive project to work on aside from and away from the congregation. If I want to do this PhD thing (not DMin, probably) in two years (more or less), I have to start catching up on reading, try to get a reading knowledge of another language (or two), and decide if I want to do this and how and where. It gets my head out of the pain and difficulty of where I am, of the things that I can’t control or even influence. Call that escapism if you will. It’s my reality at the moment.