Talk about your bliss...
But today I am feeling pastorally challenged.
The beauty of being a "hired hand" as a pastor is that you are able to keep yourself at some distance, relationally at least. But if you're going to be more than that, if you're going to be a friend or confidant, or a shepherd, then at some point you're gonna hurt.
This weekend its catching up with me again.
Tonight I sat with a friend of ten years, who it seems, is nearly done with this part of her life. She can barely talk, and her words are unclear and whispered. The oxygen she breathes makes it hard to hear her. But I sit and encourage and whisper my own words to her ear. She wants me to say a prayer, and I gladly offer one, it seems to calm her.
But I wander out of the hospital into the thick falling snow, and I grieve, again, for the loss of a friend.
Last night I was up late praying for a kid from church who's making some really poor decisions lately. I can't get him out of my head. The choices he's making will lead to more pain for him, and he will have to grow through the choices he makes. But I care, I'm concerned with his safety and his future, so I pray.
I see the person in church who has made it clear to me that they no longer want me around. They have difficulty watching as I talk from up front. Strangely I feel no animosity towards them. I see the pain of their lives and the frustration they direct at me, and others, and I wish they could be free too.
I pray and I see the elderly woman who had her basement flood and furnace need replacing, and I think how much more can she stand with her physical pain and financial limitations and living alone in that big demanding house. I know that it means independence for her, something she deeply values, and I pray for God to be close and to watch over her and provide for her.
And the names and faces go on and on. They guy who thought my interpretation of the passage this morning was, "Interesting." (I smiled inside and thanked him...) Or the three ninety year old ladies, each now on their own cane, who still regularly attend, even in spite of the snow and cold, and whisper how tough things are getting more and more.
Or the young mom with three little ones whose husband is away at school for six months and how overwhelming that can be.Â Or the young parents with kids who exasperate them completely.
See what I mean??
I don't carry their stuff. God hasn't asked me to do that. But I do walk with them through the things of life. Praying for them when things are garbage, celebrating when a moment is pure and good.
It just means that there are weekends like this that are a challenge, pastorally speaking.
But it's good to be back home. I told them that this morning, because it is really good to be back after a busy autumn.
And though it's difficult to say goodbye to a dieing friend, I wouldn't have it any other way.