February 26, 2011

its not an 8-5 job...

For the past month and a half...  probably actually since before Christmas... my schedule has been chaotic.

You are told things when you start out in ministry about how pastors sometimes work 80+ hour weeks and how you are on-call 24/7 and how your life just might get sucked up into a vortex of ministry. 

I didn't believe it.

Or rather, I was committed to not letting it happen to me.

And I must say that for a full three years, I have done "okay" at keeping my boundaries firm.

I scheduled my day off for Friday so that I would have two full days off in a row.  I took time off when I worked too much the previous week.  I don't fret about afternoon naps or mornings sleeping in when meetings are scheduled for the evening. And when the weather is warm, I have a robust desire to spend my free time on the disc golf course or in my garden rather than being cramped up in the office. I get my work done, I spend time with folks, but I make sure to take care of myself, too.

But 2011 has been absolutely nuts.

I realized this morning as I was riding in a car to yet another Saturday church-related function that I had only spent about an hour with my husband the entire week.  I realized that it is the fifth Saturday in a row that I have had something going on... between funerals and conference meetings and church retreats.  I realized that since I made two hospital visits and worked on the newsletter yesterday that I have not had a day off this week.

What on earth happened?

I think part of the slip in my boundaries has to do with a number of important things going on in the life of the church that I have chosen to prioritize and give extra time to.  I also ran into a week with four funerals and was gone for a week and therefore had catch-up work.

But there was another shift in my household that I didn't quite take note of.  My husband started working 8-5, Monday through Friday.

Before this, B had worked with his dad and the time was flexible.  The only time I knew he would be working away from home was on Tuesdays... other than that, he would go in on-call and work a lot from home.  They fix computers and I am always amazed at the ability to take over a client's computer and do updates and take care of issues from the comfort of our home.

All of that changed when my father-in-law had a seizure just after the new year.

We don't know what caused it, but it happened.

And now, he is not allowed to drive, and the two of them have become an inseperable team... heading off to see clients together and working from his dad's office.

Before this, if I had to work in the evening, I got an afternoon to spend with my husband.  Fridays almost always were free for both of us.  And even when I got home from meetings, we would stay up late watching movies because we both had the freedom to sleep a bit later.

Now, my husband gets up before me and is out the door before I have a chance to really wake up.  My evenings are just about as busy, which is why three nights out of five this week I wasn't home before 8 or 9 or later... when he was getting ready to settle down and turn in.

It's easier to say yes to a hospital visit or a meeting on a Friday, because I don't have anyone at home waiting for me.

There is definately something to be said for having a stay-at-home spouse when you are in ministry.  I wonder if others of you who have spouses who work have similiar frustrations.  How do you balance out the time with your husband or wife or family when one of the traditional "weekend" days is taken up with work and ministry?  How do you find time to spend with one another when weeknight meetings are a regular part of the job? 

I have always cherished the flexibility of my schedule. But I'm starting to resent it... a little bit.  I miss my husband.  I miss my days off.  And this chaos has got to get some order put to it.

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