October 4, 2011

What tires you?

I recently had my annual interview with my conference superintendent.  We talked about what was going on in the church, the joys and the struggles of ministry in a small town like Marengo, and I had a chance to talk about what I feel is a calling to revitalize small to medium sized churches like the one I am currently serving.

But about three fourths of the way through our conversation, he stopped me and said:  A few times now you have used phrases like "in a rut," "tired," and "wears me out."  What is going on with that?

I had not even realized that I had been doing it.  And as I sat there and thought, my work had very little to do with why I was feeling that way.  My ministry was feeling some of the side effects of what was going on in other parts of my life.

So I've been thinking really hard this week about what exactly it is that is wearing me out.  Stress, conflict, exhaustion in some areas of our lives bleed through to the ones that are going well.  So you can't ignore it.  You have to figure it out and work on dealing with it.

What is wearing me out? 

To have a baby or not
It seems like everyone around me is pregnant or just had a baby.  I'm twenty-nine years old and I was convinced that I would have babies (yes, plural) by this point.  But my husband doesn't want children.  He can't imagine how they would fit into our crazy, busy lives.  And he's right.  Our lives as they are right now don't work for children.  They would have to change.  I am okay with that, he's not.

So, for months now, we have been avoiding the conversation.  And not having a conversation is as hard as having it.  I mean, how do you compromise on something like that?  Either we have kids or we don't... One of us is going to not get our way. And that reality in itself is hard for someone like me, who wants it to be fair for everyone, to deal with.  
But, we finally did it.  We had the conversation.  A big, long conversation.  As I thought about all of the things that I am asking my husband to compromise on in this life as a pastor's spouse (where we live, when we move, what kind of community we live in, potentially asking his own work to take a back seat at some point), I want to try to let him have this one. And in the end, I promised that I would live into the reality and sit with the idea that we aren't going to have kids.  As I have done this these past few weeks, it has been easier.  The craziness that is teenage life expressed among my youth group kids helps (yikes!  I pity you parents!). Having adorable nephews and a niece to pour out all of my love on makes a huge difference (I can spoil them and wind them up and then leave!).  And considering the fact that I have not had a weekend free since the middle of August, our lives really are just too crazy to stick a baby into the middle of it right now.

That doesn't mean that every time I see a baby I don't get a twinge in my heart.  It doesn't mean that I'm 100% okay with not having kids.  But I love my husband. And to be honest, I love my crazy and busy life, too.  And so we are going to try to make this decision work. But, please, for now, stop asking when we are going to have kids!

Family stress
There is a lot going on in my extended family right now that also adds stress and conflict and emotional burdens to my life right now.  So much so that as I sat in a funeral for a friend's grandparents this past weekend, the tears just would not stop.  I'm mourning the loss of what was and it feels like we can never go back... the relationships are so damaged that I really cannot see a way forward. Carrying that pain is exhausting, but letting it go means that I have given up.

That conflict seems to also affect other relationships that are experiencing conflict... ones that would not have been so burdensome otherwise.  When I see firsthand what happens when problems are not addressed, and then watch other people in my life make similar choices to sweep things under the rug, I cringe, imagining the worst of what might happen.

I am so grateful for my brothers who are right there beside me walking this hard road and I can already see the ways that my family has been brought closer together as we protect and love and support one another... and as we commit ourselves to talking about what is going on in our lives, instead of pretending.

Exercise?  What's that?
The hard part about really loving your work is that it takes over your life if you let it.  And I have.  It has been so flexible lately that I don't have a routine for my home life. And so I'm doing good things and come home tired and instead of taking care of myself (especially my body), I sit in front of the television and let my brain turn into a pile of goo.  Exercise gives endorphins and makes you feel good and I just have not been keeping up with it lately.  But my mom and I are going to start holding one another accountable and that should help. =) 

Our lives need balance and they need support.  When one area of our relationships or work or health is not functioning fully, the whole system can fall apart.  So take a good hard look... what is tiring you out?  And what can you do to take that seriously?


  1. Of course we don't know each other. But I have so many people come to my blog and read anonymously (I know I read the stats.) that I just have to stop and say hello. I love your style of writing which is so easy to read, to feel like I 'know your heart.' And I feel for your decision to live with the idea of no kids. It is counter cultural and laudable to think these things realistically. I cannot imagine your choice and wonder why you have to being a woman. I never hear men in ministry making this sacrifice. I have no point, except that I feel for the challenge and tension you live as a female pastor. As you come to mind I will pray for you.