The Dreaded Fear of Being Lonely

I just got off the phone with one of my dear friends from seminary who is struggling with where God might be calling her after graduation in May. I think she's pretty clear about it actually (if I don't say so myself) but she's just as overwhelmed as I am by the fear that we might be lonely. And I think that most pastors struggle with this. It doesn't matter if you are single or not. It doesn't matter if you have a brood of kids or not. Being a pastor can be totally lonely. Though I would really take the brood of kids and partner any day, I am struggling with this state of loneliness that my friend dreads.

So, in the first three weeks of my ministry, I will tell you about the community I have found in a place where I didn't know a soul.

I found a group of loving and supporting pastor-types that are eager and ready to welcome me into terror mentoring group. Though I have not yet met with this group, I have already felt their love. I have felt a similar sort of support from the 20s-30s group in my state (mind you, there are seven of us in the entire state).

And I found what every pastor wants, a good friend that will take you out to laugh about how silly life is. You will crash a wedding, talk to parishioners that you will later officiate for over their wedding and enjoy one too many cocktails at a gay bar. (Yes, the photo is actually at the wedding after we crooned around the piano in the hotel lobby.)

But, my friend is right. You can never stop being a pastor. This is the truth I realized when I was explaining the Biblical foundations of the condemnation of homosexuality and why I don't believe that over my drink last night. I was just trying to make some new friends. I wandered out by myself to try to find some fun young people in this city. But, no, I was just a pastor to them. Nothing more. But, we all find that select few that we can be just who we really are with. No pastor. Just me. It's a rare find. But, they are out there. I have every faith.


Songbird said...

Sounds like a great evening!

Mystical Seeker said...

Barbara Brown Taylor commented in her book "Leaving Church" that she always got invited to the Christmas Party but never the New Years Party. She definitely experienced the problem of always being a pastor and the difficulty of socializing that this meant.

Iris said...

I have a mentor, pastor-friend who has this test for whether or not he's in pastor mode: "If I can't say 'shit,' I'm working."

I notice that my best friends these days are other female clergy. Too often, I find that we are "talking shop" and I long for just a buddy.

Blessings on you as you seek a buddy!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I am actually doing some research on this, and I'd love to hear more from you and your 20-30s buddies! Since your email isn't on your blog, could you email me? I promise I'm not a stalker (songbird has met me in person)susan.olson*at*aya.yale.edu

Susan O

Pink Shoes said...

I've met her, too -- and promise she's not a stalker! I hear you completely in this post and think the picture is fabulous -- yeah!
And, Iris, I love the "test"....
In honor of delurking, here I am!

Pastor Peters said...

Songbird truly knows everyone.

Susan, I shall email you shortly. I'm curious about this study.

mark said...

Songbird has never met me, so she can't vouch as to whether I'm a stalker or not, so you'll have to take my word for it ;)
Oh, and I'm totally not a stalker.
Anyway, I understand your post completely. I am new in my first call, and am having a slow go of making friends my own age with whom I can be myself. I love getting to know my parishioners, and enjoy spending time at their houses, but I am always "on" as their pastor.
It just takes time to figure things out and find good friends and good places, I guess.