Wednesday, January 16, 2013

just three.

I've received phone calls lately because friends of colleagues think I'm an expert on this solo pastor, working mother, part-time pay, urban context stuff. They've been told I have insight, which always makes me laugh out loud. I don't have a clue and it shows. I don't know who refers me or who's fooled, but I do have a few things that make all the difference in keeping perspective and staying alive...

I have a village. But you already know that. I've written about the way family, friends, babysitters, child care workers, and parishioners love my son. When I am not enough, they are there. Everything about that fact is both deeply difficult and completely merciful.

I have a Matt. This guy is something else. Last month I thought I was doing so much better tracking my hours at work and getting away, but he was quick to tell me the truth. You're there less, but it's here more. You never power down - I can see the piles you bring home and the distraction in your eyes. You're still time-and-a-half...and that's a far cry from what you're called to and paid for. Well, shit. Guilty as charged. But then he keeps me anyway and gives me good reasons to leave the piles at work. I want to get better at all of this for our sake...and now that he's told me the truth, I am moving in the right direction.

I have a tank. There is only so much to give and then it's empty. Sometimes the weight of it all is too heavy and I have to step away. Sometimes the suffering is too much and I weep heavy tears for all the things that are unfair. I am too new at all of this - and too softened by motherhood - to stand apart from the sadness of people's lives. Lung cancer, memory loss, underemployment, relationships crumbling, bullying, and spiritual burnout. It all sucks and there is only so much you can bear before you need a beer-nap-dance-french fries combo pack. (Do they sell those on Amazon?)

On Sunday morning I read the children's book "I Love You Forever" to my congregation while people of every age balled. That's the thing about kids' books and God's word: sometimes we just need to be read to and told how much we're loved - no matter what. This baptism thing is a complicated gift. We love until we're broken down and then we need to be replenished and refilled. And despite the wildness of our suffering and disobedience and chaos and grief, God continues to speak those words of faithful adoration into our lives. God continues to refill us with forgiveness and hope and grace and relationships that matter.

I have a ritual that refills. It doesn't fix or organize or give me expertise in this solo pastor, working mother, part-time pay, urban context stuff...but it helps a little. Whenever I close my office door for the day, I hang onto the handle for a moment before heading home. And while I stand there, I thank God for just three things that got accomplished or acknowledged or started or finished or built since I opened the door that morning. It reminds met that there will always be more - I will never be enough and my tank can only hold so much. But God used me for three things today.

So that's something.
And then I let go.


Mary Hess said...

You may think you have no wisdom to share -- but just the beauty of your words naming an experience that other share, is a huge gift. I am in a very different setting, but know the same feelings... thank you!

Charlie Ruud said...

You are a great pastor. Blessed to know you.