Growing Pains

I always loved that 80s (or was it early 90s) TV show, perhaps because I had a crush on Kirk Cameron in his adorable years before he went off the deep end creating these Left Behind movies. But, it seems that I have come to star in my very own season of this TV show, at least by title. Last weekend or perhaps two weekends ago, I was at a BBQ at the seminary. I've become an outsider there which is strange in and of itself. But, chowing down on a hot dog, I was chatting with an old friend. She's one of the early friends that I had in seminary, but one that I felt I had grown apart from in the three years of seminary. But, there I sat stressing with her about the uncertainty of what lies ahead and remembering why we had first become friends. As we shared in our frustrations and fears, I told her about my work this summer in dealing with my demons. And she turned to me and said, very honestly and very sincerely, "Ya know, I think that this is going to be a really big change for you. You are going to become someone new this summer." When she said this, I was humbled and a little freaked out.

But, I think she was right. As much as I talk about seeing the divine in others, I often forget to notice it in my life. And there She was. There was God shining through my friend Carrie. Because Carrie was right. I realized that today as I sat with my therapist talking about the loss of a 17 day old infant the day prior. In my complete and total fear, I had frozen. I hadn't risen to the occassion. I had remained outside. I was still seven. And I didn't want to go close to the reality of this pain that haunts me. As a minister, I feel great failure. I was there. I held presence. But, I failed to minister to these grieving parents as I know they needed.

My therapist and I laughed about this. And it feels good to laugh. It feels so good to laugh because most of me just wants to break down and cry. But, in laughter, I can begin to talk about what I miss. I talked about the few memories I have of my mother. I remembered the fragments and gave them a space. I don't often share these stories. More often, I keep them inside as I have kept most of this narrative. In 20 years, I have survived. Now, I'm broken open. I'm oozing all over the place as my grief no longer remains in neat little boxes. Suddenly, I'm broken open for the first time in 20 years. And now. Holy cow. And now, I have to figure out a way to be oozing. It sounds sticky and gross. And I admit that I don't really want to deal with it. I want to store it in the neat boxes that I have found security in for 20 years. But, I'm allowing myself to ooze. And my therapist hit the real truth. I'm afraid to grow up. I'm afraid to grow up and leave my mother behind. I'm afraid she will disappear if I grow up. It's sticky and painful. But, I'm trying to grow up.

Perhaps it seems odd that I share this reality in a blog format where anyone could read it (including my ordination committee who may then ignore the results of my psychological examination), but this is part of my growing pains. Maybe this is part of my ministry, but it is certainly part of the reality of my preaching the Gospel. This is how it really is. It's not neat. It's not tidy. Join me in the ooze and maybe we can grow together.

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