Even though it’s a bit early to be bringing out the Handel references, I had this on my mind last night. Yesterday was incredibly long for me–I left the house at 8:30 in the morning and didn’t return until 10 at night. Being a rather busy person and a grad student, such long days aren’t exceptionally odd for me, but they’re still long. Yesterday was different, though, in that none of it was spent in class–I worked at the church, I worked at my job, and I went back to the church.
A part of me would love it if I were less elated about having spent 6 hours on a weekday at the church.
A colleague of mine in my program–we’ll call him Talkative, even though that’s somewhat unkind and only partly true–got an MTS before coming here to do the MA, so he’s been quietly chuckling at the possibility of my doing a similar, albeit backwards, series of degrees. When I was at work yesterday (my actual job, not at church), he came by my cubicle to chat. He gave me a lot of advice–some of it useful–as to what to do with this new idea, what to look forward to if I choose this road. Talkative, like one of my other friends (who actually is a pastor), had so very many negative things to say about this life. It is the loneliest profession, he said; pastors (and others in adjacent fields) have the highest rates of divorce, the highest risks for substance abuse, the highest burnout rates. It is a job you work 24/7, you are always under scrutiny, and you have to go through hell to train for it. “Expect to have your faith system torn completely apart,” Talkative said.
It seems that most people I talk to have this horrible view of going into a church-based profession; why would anyone want it? “If you’re called, you have to,” they say. Perhaps I am also called to open wheel racing, but I’m not fool enough to do it.
And yet…yet, in the face of even those conversations, I look at yesterday and realize I was more me in a certain sense than any other day this week. Yesterday was very long, made longer by the fact that I didn’t sleep much at all the night before and wasn’t feeling terribly well most of the morning. The first chunk of time I spent at church was beginning the organization of a closet, which means moving somewhat heavy boxes and cleaning and sorting and garnering all sorts of lovely bruises. It was tiring–and then I went to my paying job and worked there, and I still had more to do. By all rights, I should have been exhausted.
I was alive.
I came home and did some homework with more focus than I’ve had all week, I planned my weekend out and organized my desk, I finished a book I’ve been reading (review to be posted next week, I think), I accomplished things. What?! I had worked all day long, and yet I felt more vibrant and centered than on days with proper sleep and much less banging about of self.
This profession sucks the soul out of you, they say. What do you say to them when you know that, instead, it turns your soul’s light on?
But those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31, HNV)