This is the question that my colleague asked me yesterday at the end of our time together yesterday. We chat every Monday. He was aware that I was not so excited about my ministry yesterday. I wasn't convinced that my sermon was a good thing. I was struggling with whether or not I told my story in a way that allowed others in. I wasn't convinced it had worked.
You know why, right? There was that one jerk who asked me after worship, "So, I don't understand why you can't get over your mother's death." He then told me about a friend he'd lost in his 20s and how the death haunts him. I smiled knowingly and told him we all have stories that haunt us. This is mine. Really, I wanted to hit him for saying the one thing that I never want to hear again. Then, I went to talk for 90 minutes with a group of parents about our teens interest and involvement in Confirmation. We're going to make some changes (though church people define change differently than clergy do). It was exhausting. I walked away feeling like hired help. I was deflated. I still felt like that when my colleague asked this question about joy.
I wanted to think that there was joy in my ministry -- but I couldn't think of anything that was really exciting me. So, I turned the question back on him. He talked about his family. That's nice. I'm not going to tell you about my relationship. It's not particularly joyous right now. Arg. I walked away annoyed that I couldn't name any joy right now in my life. So, I got back to work. I sent an email about the next steps in the Confirmation conversation, and that's where things changed.
I got a phone call and then an email. Then, there was another email. Each celebrated how good the conversation was yesterday and how hopeful these parents are about the work that the church is doing with their kids. And then, the emails started about my sermon. The best one didn't come until much later that night -- but all of the sudden I felt assured. I felt actual joy. It's the people that matter to me. I want to feel like our covenant is working. And then, the comforting assurance came. Yes, we're ok. There is joy. We're doing good things. All will be well.