Thursday, August 30, 2007
It's been a difficult week for me, and I'm not sure why. Heck, it's been a difficult month. At first I thought I felt depressed and slow and unmotivated because I was tired after eight non-stop weeks. As some of you know, I literally ran from one event to another from early June to early August. TO's high school graduation, with a ten-hour drive on each end of the weekend. Then two weeks of preparation for being gone for ten days with Pride following shortly thereafter. Gone for ten days, come back to a wedding the day I arrived back in River City. Then the three weeks of thousands of details getting ready for Pride week. Imagine Easter and Christmas rolled together for a mainstream church and you get an idea of what the Pride worship service means for a church in the GLBT community. And we had one of our denomination's singers/evangelists coming for that weekend as well, and staying with me as a houseguest. In addition to the church's events (worship, parade unit, food booth, church booth), as co-vice chair of the community Pride organization, I needed to be present at as many of the community events as I could. So the flag-raising, the Night of Remembrance (both of which I was participating in anyway), an art show (which unfortunately had to be canceled due to a storm), bowling, a film festival, Saturday night entertainment, including an amazing dance set put together by Brit Boy (which I was the primary contact for), and then the big events on Sunday--service, parade, entertainment.... And then we had another concert on the Monday and Tuesday it was all over.
So I expected to be exhausted; I had made sure to have worship pretty much planned out for the first couple of weeks. And then I had ten days of vacation, which I thought would revitalize me--I had wanted to use some of the time to look at myself, my life, and listen to what God is calling me to be and do here. Instead I lacked motivation to do anything but sleep as late as the dog let me, surf the internet, read novels, nap and get together with friends.
And I still came back feeling drained and sad. Even having to get back in the routine didn't help.
Tuesday and yesterday were the nadir...staring out the window drinking coffee, forcing myself to respond to emails and do a few really urgent things. I didn't sleep much the night in between either.
And then yesterday afternoon I had a deep conversation with Brit Boy, and last night I went to dinner with the Professor. I don't know if it was the dinner conversation with the Professor or the one with Brit Boy earlier in the day, something else, or a combination of all those, but I did a fair amount of thinking last night after I got home and then this morning. And yes, that cogitation did result in some conclusions.
I realised that I have been so focused on what might happen (good and bad) that I haven't had time or energy for what I know will happen, for what is happening. It's the reverse of that old saying--instead of not seeing the forest for the trees, I couldn't see the trees for the forest. No wonder I felt overwhelmed.
I am a pastor with a church to care for. That's what I am called to do; that's my central task. If I do that well, then anything else I can do is gravy (I'm defining that fairly broadly, by the way--caring for the church includes community work and self-care).
No wonder I felt overwhelmed and depressed and defeated--I was trying to take care of everything in sight. Not in a literal sense--I've finally learned to delegate. But my sense of responsibility (already over-developed) was running as wild as kudzu in June.
The Professor reminded me that I cannot begin to be prepared for every contingency, that the simple things like worship and conversation and presence are most important. He didn't quite put it that way, actually, since he was using academic jargon rather than church jargon; that's my translation. What he meant was to focus on the fundamentals and not worry about the rest until I had to. Brit Boy put it more simply: "Just chill."
And so instead of angsting over a strategic plan and a life mission statement and a global strategy for the church, I'm planning worship for September. I'm working on the guest preachers for the fall. I'm getting to know the new pastor at our host church. I'm cleaning the house. I'm planning meals. I'm thinking about what I'm going to make for gifts for Christmas. I'm focusing on the trees, not the forest. Already I feel happier, more relaxed, less worried, less stressed.
And now you know why Brit Boy and the Professor are two of my favourite people. They both know me well enough to cut through the verbiage and focus on what really matters, and, more importantly, they both care enough to speak honestly. And both would dismiss the idea that they have done anything special--but they have. So thanks, both of you. You're amazing friends.