This post is part of the UNCO synchro blog. You can read other posts from the series here.
“You’re learning a lot about yourself”
“Enjoy this time away from ministry”
“this is going to make you a better pastor”
“You’re going to have such good preaching material”
“One day you’ll be grateful for the lessons learned in this season”
All of the above things have been said to me this year. All by people I absolutely adore. None of them are wrong.
But seriously, fuck this!
I am not grateful that my marriage is over. I am not grateful to have lost the job of my dreams. I am not grateful to have been cut off from friends and community. I am not grateful that I am missing so much of my kids’ lives. I am not grateful to not have a place of my own. I am not grateful that after paying child support I have barely enough for gas and food. I’m not grateful for being talked down to at my job by any one of my six bosses. I’m not grateful for the guilt and shame I carry like a weight around my neck.
And why should I be? This stuff sucks! This has been, without qualification, the worst year of my life. I have hurt in ways that I did not know were possible. I have been broken down to my bare elements, and while that may prove to be beneficial in the long run, the process itself has been scarring.
I don’t doubt that I will look back on this time… someday… with a certain amount of thanksgiving. I am growing. I am having layers of ego chipped away and that is a good thing. I am facing my past in a real and substantial way. All good things, but my God, does it have to hurt like this?
My faith tradition is filled with lament. There’s a whole book of it. (Spoiler alert, it’s Lamentations). I love Psalm 22. Yes, the psalmist eventually circles around to praising God (pansy!) but for the most part, he (tradition says it’s David) is looking at the circumstances around him and saying “Everything is trying to kill me. This blows!” Jesus echoes the first line, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, from the cross. I don’t think he was super grateful in that moment. By Sunday, there had been a course correction, but Friday was a shit sandwich.
It’s bad form to stay in the places of un-gratitude for long. People tell you to “suck it up” or “get over it”. I especially like to be reminded that “life isn’t fair” or “you brought this on yourself”. Yay, thanks for that! I don’t want to be a whiner. And even in the midst of all of this, I do have much for which to be grateful. As I said to my therapist yesterday, my friends are much better than Job’s. I have what I need for each day. And the kids, oh the kids! They light up my life! But sometimes life hurts on an epic scale and it’s not okay to tell people to “man up”. If you don’t want to be around me while I’m hurting, that’s cool. Just don’t run back when things are good.
This season won’t last forever. One day, I’ll look back and be grateful for all that I’ve gained in this time. I might even be wistful for my days as a bookseller. Until then, I remain ungrateful.