Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ministry/chaplaincy blues.

I have had an emotionally draining week.
Depression and stress experiences.
I have just watched a short documentary on John Kirwin's struggle with depression. (Once an All Black rugby winger- perhaps the best in the world - now a coach of the Japanese rugby team) As I watched I had a lump in my throat because I could identify with so much he talked about, though certainly I do not have the depth of depression he had. I talked with a person this week suffering from stress. Again I could identify with so much. I thought "Why talk with me? If I knew the answers I wouldn't be in the state I get myself in." I was sitting up the other morning at 3:15 a.m. exploring different sites on my computer, (second life info - good grief) because I had been in bed since around 11, but had not been able to sleep. I have had my son leave to live overseas. I have had some difficult chaplaincy situations to think about. We had our cat die and there never seems enough hours in the day. I recognise there is a cumulative impact of a series of things happening over a short period of time. Anyway, all this to tell you, I have struggled emotionally toward the end of the week.

Things I cannot change..
I have on my wall beside me here the "Serenity prayer". "God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." I struggle in the church because there are some things I cannot change. I believe they damage the work of the church and I can't do anything about them! I admit that in spite of this lovely sounding prayer, I do not have "Serenity" about them. I say to myself, "What's the use? Why try?" and every week they get me fuming inside.... no "serenity" there!

People I struggle to cope with.
This week I learned that I have to come to terms with the fact that I find myself getting angry in the presence of two different individuals. It is not that those individuals are currently doing anything wrong. In fact today one was being nice and complimentary and I found I was still getting angry. I have had deep differences of opinion with these two people. I thought I had "got over" the differences and moved on. In my head I have said, "Oh well you win some, you lose some." My head says one thing, my heart another. I was surprised at my inner reactions in their presence... anger which I dare not vent, but which then contributes to depression. I have to deal with this.... somehow. I do try to be a nice accepting tolerant sort of guy. The issues impact on the lives of others though and I struggle with that. I need to do some "inner work".

I keep on trying though...
In spite of the fact that I have had to battle these sorts of "inner demons" I do keep trying to do my best. As I prepare for each Sunday I ask myself, "What is the best way I can present these concepts?" I can open almost any gospel reading and think of a sermon I have done before on that.... so I could take life easy. But I don't. I still go about re-studying the passage. I explore commentaries. I look for resources. I spend time thinking things through in a fresh way. I think what I present generally is of a high standard. Even in my down times, I persist and perhaps even more intensely, try to do my best. Today I was warmed by an arm. As I finished the service a lovely, loving, wise elderly man who I respect and love immensely was walking near me. He moved closer, reached his arm over to my shoulder, shook it then rubbing my back looked at me, smiled and nodded his affirmation, then just moved on. Not a word was said, but I could feel his appreciation and the deep recognition of what I had presented. Today that gesture was worth everything.

Others opt out...
I talked to a man who is resigning his top job to get an easier one. At his stage in life he decided this was what he should do. I was a jealous of him, it would be so nice. His reasoning seemed very sound and sensible.

Other options...
I went to a chaplaincy where there is a man whose wife is the HR person for a firm in town. He saw me arrive and said, "Your future job is being advertised, if you want it." He had at different times talked to his wife about me and once a few years ago I had applied for and was offered a job at this firm. At that point I had turned it down, but this new job now is right up my alley. I made enquiries via email and as I ran past the place tonight I picked up an application form. It is sooo tempting.

I doubt I'll have the courage to do it. ... A country song on a CD in my van goes, "Take this job and shove it. I ain't working here no more!" I love to sing that with great gusto. I was tidying my study the other night and picked up an article I had photo copied from some where... it's title... "Take this job and love it!" ... Annoyed, I threw it in a drawer and said, "Yeah right!" Perhaps I should get it out and read it?

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