These days I’m tired. It’s funny how fast the wind can leave my sails and a deep, soul-level fatigue can set in.
I know myself well enough to know the things that trigger it, and this past season has been full of multiple events.
I. BOUNDARY ISSUES
I am, by nature, a “gray-thinker.” Life (and thus human beings) is a mystery, and infinitely complex. This type of thinking helps me craft a “middle way” through variety of issues, and find ways to diffuse controversies in order to invite people into dialogue.
Occasionally, however, I am confronted by issues that are not nearly so easy to navigate: different aspects of spirituality or church life sometimes contain some kind of absolute that has to be dealt with.
Usually, when an absolute is involved, someone is going to get hurt. Insiders have the potential to become instant outsiders. The accepted can come to feel the pain of the rejected, in just a few short minutes.
This tears away at my soul.
I know that life is difficult. I know that “gray thinking” can, in and of itself, be a form of “black-and-white thinking”, a way to avoid the messiness of disagreement and confrontation.
But it still tends to send me into a tailspin.
I pride myself on being a “workhorse”, particularly in the arena of public ministry. At 46, I still try to be the musician who can play the longest, most consecutive Sundays (or whatever). There is something in me that says, “Put the burden–of music, of teaching, whatever–on me; I can handle it. As Bruce said, “Baby, I’m tougher than the rest.”
(BTW, I realize that this isn’t healthy.)
Even more, this simply is no longer the case. I get tired. This Sunday marks the second Sunday I’ve been off since Easter, and a number of those Sundays have been days where I’ve both lead music and taught as well.
I started to notice the fatigue about 6 weeks ago, when I’d wake up on Monday morning with the thought, “Oh man, I have to do Sunday in 6 more days.” (Worse yet, sometimes the thought would strike me on Sunday afternoon/evening before I’d even had a chance to catch my breath from the morning.)
Fortunately, I have two Sundays off (more or less, but that’s another story), so maybe there’s a way forward through this part of the forest.
III. QUESTIONS OF CALLING
At this point I’ve been in ministry, more or less full-time for 17 years. Roughly speaking, that’s 800 Sundays of music or teaching (I left out a whole year, and used 50 Sundays/year as an estimate).
That’s a lot of stuff.
Whether it’s just getting older, or something else that’s going on, right now I am FEELING those Sundays.
Put another way, sometimes I ask myself, “Is it time to do something else? What else might God want to do?”
Relatedly, it doesn’t escape me that time keeps rolling on, and I have more years behind me, vocationally-speaking, then I do ahead.
(Not being morbid; this is simply a fact.)
In a way, this is invevitable: horizons begin to narrow: I can no longer contemplate going on tour, or entertaining all the crazy dreams that I used to.
Now is the time, for practicality, isn’t it?
Trouble is, practicality was never very motivating for me.
I’ve been reading a lot of monastic literature lately, and there’s a part of me that resonates deeply with that life: rhythm, simple work, prayer and reading.
However, I’m pretty sure you can’t take your family into a monastery.
So I’m restless. I’m hungry, but not much looks inviting or intriguing right now. I seek rhythm and peace, and hope that the light shines through that rhythm and peace, and I wait.
Waiting’s not so bad, after all.