Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A tough week

I wanted to write this post first, but wasn't really brave enough to commit to open view how I've been feeling lately. Even as I type I'm reluctant to give away too much detail. It's been a tough week or so, and to be honest I can't see anything changing any time soon. I've felt really low, I mean really low. It's a combination of things, all of which I fully understand and can analyse and interpret but of course can't shake myself free from. I'm at that point in my training where I can't imagine passing the course and yet I'm desperate to succeed. What I really want to do is to wake up in twelve months time, working in my own reasonably successful practice and with an emerging missional community taking shape in our community.

But that is not where I am right now.

Right now, I wake up each morning knowing that I have papers to write, exams to pass and so much to remember that I'm convinced it is all beyond me. So how do you face each day when you can't see the future and the present is not that bright either?

It's very easy to give trite little answers, to pat someone on the head and tell them to trust God and everything will be okay. But that's not how they will see it. We offer sympathy instead of empathy. Our encouragement is faintly veiled admonishment for failing to trust. I know this because I live on both sides of the equation. I've sat with people who feel this way and sought to help and encourage them, and I've sat felling this way and listened to others trying to encourage to me.

I'm fortunate because I know that while I'm not okay now, I will be. I also know that once I qualify I will face another set of challenges (finding clients who will pay for my services, getting paid work in a clinic or elsewhere etc). I also know myself. I know that while I think my standards are low, they are probably quite high, and although I feel like I've spent my whole life failing at one thing after another, that's probably not true.

The truth is, it's not just been a tough week, it's been a tough fifty years! There are a lot of scars, but life without scars is surely a life without adventure and a life without risk. When I ask a new client if they've ever suffered any injuries, most say no. I don't believe them. I can't believe that anyone can go through life without an injury. Have they never tried climbing a tree, or using a hammer? I'm scarred because I've tried an adventure or two. I'm not adventurous enough to climb mountains or sail oceans, but I've stepped out in faith, I've taken on challenges and I've been hurt in the process.

Perhaps my tough weeks, my sense of failure, my frustration about both the present and the future, is born out of a relentless assumption that there has to be more to life than this, whatever this happens to be. That somehow God has something he wants to do and I need to find out what it is and get involved rather than keep on repeating the same old pattern of things that haven't got us anywhere before or that simply don't work now.

Let me put it like this, and maybe encourage myself in the process:

If God is calling me to find a new way of expressing ministry, of building church, of doing discipleship, then I will have to keep exploring. I will have to keep pushing the boundaries of my thinking, and search out these things. The alternative is to bow to the pressure to conform to a pattern I'm not sure has any value anymore.

It looks more and more likely that I will have to abandon my status as an accredited baptist minister because my current status doesn't fit the criteria. It would seem a shame to have to do this, but if it has to be, then so be it. I think I'd rather get to the end of my life and say I tried everything I could think of trying, than to have sat in a box for several decades and changed nothing.

Doing it this way has a huge price attached. It's paid in emotional and spiritual currency, and that probably explains why I feel the way I feel. I do not offer any solutions, and I do not see this as a well though-out post, but it's just given me a chance to process some thoughts and get them out of my head. With hindsight perhaps I should have kept them in my journal, but maybe my rambling thoughts are just what someone needed to read.

PS No offers or suggestions of counselling please!

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