Life Maintenance

It happened last spring too. In fact, about this time last year I started anti-depressants. I felt I had lost my resiliency: things that would not normally get me down got me down and kept me there. I couldn’t find my joy. I couldn’t connect with my loves. (of ministry, family, God…)

I’m there again. I am constantly behind on everything. I am so behind on pastoral calls and caring that it is literally shameful. I started today by writing a hard email to someone who I should have called weeks ago. I literally don’t know where the time goes. I feel like I am working as hard as I can and still can’t make the deadlines or meet all the needs of the congregation, my family, and my heart. All of it gets done halfway and none of it is enough. I’m not a good enough partner, dad, or minister. I’m not a good friend.

Eek. In the middle of writing this my partner called. His dad, who fell again this week, has to go to a rehabilitation center in hopes he will become strong enough to return to his assisted living facility. If he doesn’t, it will be a nursing home. He wants me to get ahold of some people and get referrals. Eek. One more thing to do. And it’s time critical. Sigh.

And it reminds me that I haven’t called someone else I should have called. And it gives me the sinking feeling I will never, ever catch up. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to be there for all these people. There is just one me. Is this how Jesus felt when the crowds were pushing and shoving and shouting? I suppose this isn’t that dramatic, but it feels overwhelming. I want to yell, “Heal thyself!” to both family and church.

How does this happen? I’ve spent years trying to empower and inspire the congregation. We’ve built systems and created small group ministries. Still, when it comes down to it, there are just too many times when “only the minister will do.” This year I have help–a wonderful intern who has developed great pastoral relationships with many people. What will I do next year? What will the congregation do?

Yikes. Is it me? Am I inadequate? Is it the system? What is the healthy response to this? The right one? Help!

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2 thoughts on “Life Maintenance

  1. I don’t have advice, either, really. Another (((hug))), of course. I just have an observation or two. I was close to someone with depression issues years back. He had pills and “treatment” but, turned out the major bodily issue was diet. He had a severe lack of something (potassium?). Whatever it was, after an evaluation, he altered his diet and cut back the pills and within a relatively short time, felt about 85%. The other 15 came as he worked his emotional program. Maybe you could benefit by seeing and working with a good nutritionist (non-allopathic if possible). Homeopaths can be helpful in this area, too. Once you see what can be done for your physical system, then you can more clearly get a handle on the rest.

    No advice, right. But some more thoughts. Yes, Jesus was surrounded almost all the time, wasn’t he? Always somebody pulling at his robe or saying, “come come, heal so-and-so,” etc. and he did what he could, but there was also just one of him. Supposedly that’s why he tried to prep some very unlikely characters to carry on “the work” when/if (depending on your understanding of who/what he was) he wouldn’t be around. In the centuries since he left the planet, there’ve been lots and lots of “systems” and “small group ministries” started by, well, ministers. Some work. Some fail miserably. If you’ve tried your darnedest to “empower” and “inspire” and you still get this “let the M do it” attitude, maybe they’ll never “get it” … or at least, it’ll only happen when/if there is no “M” around (which isn’t likely is it?). You might have to just put it to ’em that you’ve gotten the vehicle prepped, gassed it up, and now it’s up to them to put foot to pedal and D-R-I-V-E. ‘Cause, if they don’t, well, a lot isn’t going to get accomplished because the times and duties require much, much more than what can be squeezed out of one person (vous). They may not like that, but the alternative is what? To push yourself into a frazzled state where you can’t function on any level? Mmm. That seems too big a price.

    It sounds very much as though you are a caring person, really wanting to do the work you chose and touch as many people with positive stuff as possible, but you need to realize that you ARE just one person, and you DO need down time and quiet time and YOU time. Without any of that, you can’t function well. You seem to just be needing a break to relax, read, think, journal, play, create… and probably lots more (stick re-evaluate in there). Could mean you need a sabbatical, no matter how impossible that seems right now. At the least, you could stand to go round to all these folks you feel you’re disappointing and level with them, gently, and enlist their support. If you’ve been a help and joy to any of them for any period of time — long or short — they should have no trouble stepping up for you. That’s what people do for each other to help make life meaningful and rewarding.

    Here’s a simple statement to repeat almost like a mantra when it seems the walls are closing in (don’t know where it came from): “Life’s not a problem to be solved, but an adventure to be lived.” Try that on for size, maybe in front of a lit candle with a bit of soft music going. Repeat it, think about, it, meditate on it. Have “faith.” Jesus did say all it had to be was mustard seed size and mountains could be moved. Don’t think he was making that up.

    Go well, stay well.

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