aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Keeping it together

A follow-up to my post about yesterday's clergy meeting. Another question we were asked concerned where we turn and how we hold ourselves together in times of severe stress (which, for most clergy is, like, all the time). Again, I can only share my answer.

I'm an introvert, and people wear me out, yea, even those I love dearly. My need for quiet and alone-time means that I carry a limited number of intimate friends that I keep up with, whom I can turn to in times of turbulence. I mean, there are only a few people who really charge up my batteries, with whom I don't have to be "on." And those folks are very widely scattered. Our schedules and distances are such that I have to ration times with them, like rationing water in crossing the beautiful, but arid, backcountry.

And if I let myself get run down, worn out, then my physical tiredness makes me prey to all kinds of mental and spiritual dreck. In order to keep my inner self clean and clear and able to relate to people as Jesus would have me do, I must get my rest and renew my energies regularly. When I don't do that, everything is just miles and miles of Plain Awful. And then I can't see or smell even those lovely roses thrown my way by so many of the people I work with; I only see and feel the thorns.

I'm glad that in our professional life today, we are encouraged -- constantly -- to not neglect our self-care. So many of us clergy, like myself, are driven, goal-oriented, "everything matters" kind of people. We want to save every soul and succeed in every endeavor, and push the cart up the hill even if it takes our last strength. And the truth is, it can't be done. Even Jesus knew his physical and emotional limits, and when he'd had enough, he just -- left. Headed out to the wilderness. Got away from people. Even though he loved them, even though there were people standing in line, crying out to be healed or delivered or comforted.

It's a hard lesson to learn. I have to re-learn it constantly. Every so often, I manage to run myself completely into the ground. And I have to tell myself, "You can't do it without Jesus" is only half true; doing it with Jesus means keeping close to him, and he beckons his disciples from time to time to come away to a place apart.

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