...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Monday, March 23, 2009

Really, Are We All that Different?

It's amazing how suffering can bring us together like nothing else. "Time and chance happen to us all," the Preacher writes in Ecclesiastes. But the subject of our own choosing is what's more captivating.

I mean, why do we do some of the stupid things we do? We deny what others see in us, pretending that either they've got it wrong or they don't see how unique and different and special God knows we really are. But wisdom says we're not that different!

While time and chance happen to us all, it's our denial, refusal, and inability to see the obvious. The toxic supervisor shows their underhandedness even before the potential hire is made. Future staff colleagues are put-down. Red flag! Not to worry. I'm different. A clergy leader has a clear history of sabotaging the work of others, but then, we think we're different, so we'll choose to work with them in spite of the evidence that we'd be better off without their "career help."

Or we deny signs of burnout in ourselves: apathy, meaningless, boredom, lethargy, etc., etc. Somehow, we are above it, we tell ourselves. We're not like those other clergy leaders who had problems with this sort of thing. We're taking precautions. We're good, so good that we don't even need help. We're above it all.

I hurt for my clergy colleagues who too often like me, think that denial of my true self and attention to the false self is necessary to get ahead in the church business. Because such denial is based on self-hate and anger, not love. And anger leads to bitterness, resentment, and finally the death of sloth- total indifference.

So the next time you're tempted by the illusion of your own superiority, remember what got you here in the first place: not your moral goodness, ability, or political acumen. In spite of what anyone has told you, it's God's grace, a grace that loves and heals and liberates even and especially what we deny in ourselves.

1 comment:

  1. How true. I spent years carefully cultivating the "proper" perception for others to see. Ultimately the "real" me drove me to burnout and depression. There was a basic incongruity between who I was and who I wanted others to think I was. Now, who cares what others think as long as I am happy and healthy and being a servant to God's people.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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