Moving Toward Grace

I said something aloud this weekend that scared me. And continues to scare me. I said to a friend -- two friends actually -- that I have started to entertain the thought of moving. It started as a semi-innocent thought last week or so as I wondered about the typical tenure of associate pastors. Last week, the two year blip suddenly made sense to me. I thought I would be here longer. I thought that this would last "forever" (that's not actually my word, but a member of the search commitee did actually use that word as I grimaced). And then this weekend, I told my friends that I was thinking about moving. Of course, I won't actually move. I won't quit that easily, but I am finding this first year to be harder than I thought.

Is it because I am single? Is this mantle of suddenly becoming revered too much? Is it the church? No. Well, perhaps it is some of these things, but not really. It's really just that I'm lonely and I haven't the foggiest idea what to do about it. Today is my six month anniversary in my new city. It may be delightful ironic that it is April Fool's Day. Or it might just be mean. I'm not sure.

It was also my birthday yesterday. I can safely and honestly admit that it was the worst birthday of my entire life. As friends and loved ones called to wish me birthday cheer, I sank deeper and deeper. On the eve of my birthday, I cried myself to sleep because I miss my friends. For several years, I have had my own tradition of gathering my favorite people around one table for food and wine. Last year, it was Italian food. A fabulous relatively cheap spot in New York with 12 of my favorite people. It was wonderful. I spoke with one of these friends yesterday as I weighed the pros and cons of having dinner at a restaurant alone or eating at home. Treating myself sounded like a nice idea, but this was after the third phone call and my eyes had become red and puffy.

It's too embarassing. It's too honest. It's too true. And as I start my Holy Week journey, I find myself tear-stained -- longing for grace. And I hope it will come eventually, as Anne Lamott seems to want me to believe. Right now, I feel stubborn. Even though I just started her new book (and I'm so excited she has a new book), I don't feel ready for grace. How's that for irony? I don't want to see it. I won't allow those strange moments in -- like the congregant who lunged into a hug after worship today. She patted my back as she pulled me a little closer. "I'm so, so, so glad you are here" she whispered loudly into my ear. "I just love your energy and enthusiasm. I don't know what I did without it." Grace, Anne Lamott would remind me. God might even point to that moment as well. See? See? I love you and I'm still looking out for you, rings the voice of Sophia. But, I'm not ready. I would love to move toward grace as readily as I'm able to admit that I'm thinking about physically moving my location. But, I'm not moving. Not really. I'm stuck. And I just want to move just a little closer toward grace.


mark said...

So, I have to say that I know where you're coming from. A bit too well, I think.
I just hit my 7 month mark in my first parish, actually, and my birthday is in three days. And I'm single. And things just seem a bit overwhelming sometimes.
Last year, at this time, I was making plans with my friends to go out to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant, where we'd spend time enjoying each other's company and some great margaritas, and it didn't occur to me that it was going to be over soon.
Now, here I am, looking at my upcoming birthday which will be spent in committee meetings and choir rehearsals. My senior pastor gave me plenty of opportunity to opt out, but I decided to go ahead and do it because it was better than the alternative - sitting at home alone, or going out to eat by myself.
So yeah. I hear you loud and clear...

Pastor Peters said...

Happy Birthday Mark! And thanks. It's nice to know I'm not alone. It feels like it. Too much. But, do try to do something fun for your birthday even if it is just a special food item between committee meetings and choir.

Hey... what's Young Punk Pastors? Can I join?

Songbird said...

Send an e-mail to revstacey@gmail.com about Young Punk pastors. It's a group blog that has gone private and was started by a couple of RGBP people, if I remember right.
Sorry as I can be that you are feeling this way.

Alex said...

Peace to you...

mark said...

I would welcome you with open arms to Young Punk Pastors. It's a good idea, but the blog has been kinda dead lately. It might be good to breathe some new life into it!
In honor of my birthday, I AM bringing cookies the meetings and choir rehearsal. Granted, they're coming from a tube, but I thought it would be nice to celebrate.
Also, I will be taking some time off after Easter, to go on vacation with a couple pastor friends from seminary. We'll be sure to celebrate my birthday then, in style!!

Magdalene6127 said...

(((Pastor Peters))), keeping you in my prayers and thoughts as you wrestle with your situation.