03 December 2008

All-Around Wednesday Catharsis

I did not have a good morning. I also had a great morning, and I'm having a good afternoon. Let me explain.

The past month you might have noticed a certain sense of angst in my posts. Truth be told, it's not been the best time for me or our family. Now, before any of you start worrying, all is well: we have a roof over our heads, more food than we can eat and everyone is healthy. In fact, Alanna's 4 month check-up was today and she is apparently another Lake Wobegon baby: 75th percentile for height and 85th for weight.

The problem has been our time, or lack thereof, over the last four weeks or so. Between juggling two church careers, dealing with sick kids and a sick nanny, a retreat for Kristin, a three-day conference for me, and an extended holiday with family, we've basically been reacting to whatever might be the most recent crisis, and it's been that way since about the first of November. In the latest Newsweek Fareed Zakaria made an excellent point about the incoming Obama administration needing to hit the ground with an over-arching strategy, lest they be overcome by reacting to the many inevitable crises which will arise. Had he asked, I could have offered Mr. Zakaria the past month of our lives as exhibit A proving his point: I've had no strategy, and I've been reacting far too much lately.

Feeding the baby this morning, as I pondered yet another day of just managing to get done what MUST be done, without any thought for what lies ahead or managing the growing pile of debris in my office and in my house, I hit a breaking point. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was into my third shirt by 7:30 A.M., thanks to Alanna the Vomit Vixen; I'm assuming her contribution was a factor, at any rate. I ordered Kristin and the girls out of the house. I'm not an ogre, mind you: I sent them to the gym, where Kristin could get some time to herself while someone else watched the girls for her. But in essence, I asked the world to "leave me the hell alone" for 90 minutes this morning. Thankfully, the world obliged. I finished a book, started some laundry, and worked in the garage so we could actually use it as a garage for the minivan. Most importantly, I dealt with some things that I had identified as problems, not with stuff someone else needed me to handle for their sake. I was amazed at how badly I needed to get that garage squared away - and how good it felt to finally get it done.

To add blessing upon blessing, Ainsley was a good girl this morning and allowed me to make some changes to the decorations in the basement, also. Again, I hadn't realized how badly I wanted these things done until I actually took the time to do them. Moving pictures and figuring out a way to hang and display an old trombone are minor things, but somehow the sense of home
those changes allowed have made me a much calmer, content man this afternoon.

I think one of the things that drove me to this moment over the last month has been the constant element of distraction in my life. Whether it's kids, the telephone, email, television, or my own scattered nature asserting itself more boldly than usual, I have felt pulled from one moment to the next lately, as though I were living without purpose and without direction. Today I took some steps to alleviate that feeling. I've put myself on a two day Facebook hiatus. I turned off the email program while dealing with the annoying pile of stuff on my desk. I sat in my easy chair and finished reading this week's Newsweek before doing anything else this afternoon. And in all of that, I've felt more at peace and like I'm actually doing something worthy of focus and reflection.

AND as if this weren't enough, we had a wonderfully unexpected moment today in our monthly campus ministers' gathering. One of my colleagues is ministering to a family who recently lost a daughter in a car accident. Hearing him tell the story of the past 30 hours slapped some perspective into me right quick, but that wasn't the unexpected moment. That moment came when another colleague asked if our troubled colleague would lead us in prayer for the situation. My gracious friend who opened the door to prayer comes from a church that does not generally pray with others, yet this friend provided an opportunity for us to gather with one another for one another in Jesus' name. It was both a surprise and a blessing; on a day when I have much for which I'm thankful, this was another unexpected gift.

So, it was a cathartic day all-around, and I haven't even gotten to the fun bit yet. That's the time when I get to gather with our student community for worship and fellowship tonight. After a morning that started with my pulse rate climbing at the thought of yet another day chasing the wind, the actual day has turned into something positive, and for that, I'm thankful. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to get pizza. After all, campus ministry does have it's privileges. :-)



  1. I feel you on this one. We have been in our house for a year now. Garage is still unusable. House is cluttered. Church is not doing so well. Everyone is cranky.

    Somehow I think if I could just get the garage clean and buy two more bookcases for my office my world would be set aright. And 90 minutes alone to do that without children or phone calls from church would be like heaven.

    Blessings to you, brother in ministry!

  2. Scott - I'm there with you man! Whew, I'll be a The Gathering Place 6 busy days in a row. Ministry is good - but, exhausting lately. Evan, our student president, lost his father the day after Thanksgiving. It was unexpected and life-shattering to a young man who has gained so much faith and wisdom by his dad's example. So with Advent, there is grief.

    I sit here at my desk fully intending to clean-up and organize - something I've really needed to do. And here I am taking time to comment. Without even knowing it, I've taken a moment to take a real breath, ponder busy schedules, consuming ministry and family issues. My mind now wanders to other things like a nephew who's coming for the weekend, two newcomers to worship yesterday and a Christmas gift I can't wait to buy. I feel the tug to step up the pace, stay on course - get it all done. And will I? Probably not. But then I remember another gift I continually forget to receive - let alone open. Grace. Time to receive the gift and know that God's got my back.

    Thanks for sharing Scott. You're not alone. Busy schedules are one thing - but sick children is another thing entirely. My wish for you and yours is a healthy month ahead. My New Years resolution - more time with family. And to get a jump-start on it, I'm taking them to Chicago over New Years for the LSM National Gathering. Hey, I've actually impressed my girls! And that is not always an easy thing to do.

    Take care my new friend. And thank you for providing me an opportunity to ponder. It's been time well spent.

  3. Weird how good days come about. Although, as I read I couldn't help but wonder and picture a similar breaking point for me somewhere around Easter as we prepare to move and begin a new call the beginning of the new year. I can't imagine I'll be any more prepared than to just react to what comes along.