Pastor and Person...
Being a pastor and a person sometimes seems mutually exclusive. The reason I know this is because I'm inordinately conscious of the difference between the two on most days. Oh, there are small bits of time when I live in a pure stream of consciousness that blends the two together seamlessly. But on most days, I find myself torn between the two, asking God to give me fresh ways to be both without canceling either one out. The neutralizing/neutering of either would honestly break my heart.
This could be one of many reasons why I'm deeply intrigued with the God-Man Jesus, not that I'm equating myself with His Majesty, but you see what I'm getting at. How can you live in the one role without losing the other. How can you be fully both instead of working out some 50/50 deal? How can you feel "today" and yet live in the realm of "forever". How can you feel people's emotions in the moment all the while knowing the future? How do you walk the tightrope holding that pole, with those polarizing polarities, without overcompensating and consequently losing balance. I know they aren't enemies, but sometimes it seems so. It can't be easy to be God and Man.
I'm not implying that I relate to the God/Man Christ Jesus on all levels, but sometimes the peculiar nature of Pastor/Person seems to carry a similar tension. The Pastor in me knows truth. The Person in me knows temptation. The Pastor in me is drawn to people. The Person in me is cautious of people. The Pastor in me leads. The Person in me needs. The Pastor in me is happy. The Person in me is crappy. The Pastor in me feels high. The Person in me feels dry. The Pastor in me can't help myself from caring. The Person in me can't help myself from falling. This juxtaposition is ever reminding me of its existence.
There were days when I wasn't so aware of these schizophrenic personalities. I lived with a solidarity filled with unknowing altruism and innocence. I hate admitting that. I feel so sullied by years of expanding awareness, like a kid that thought his city block was the whole world only to find out that his house was on a block in a town outside a city within a county that was part of a state in a region of a nation on a continent of a planet in a galaxy within a vast and infinite universe. All the sudden the simplicity and wonder of the city block prunes up, taking its place in the great circle of life (reference the the epic animation "Lion King"). Things that used to be wonderful slowly become wonderless. It's funny how knowing less actually led to living more. It seems that the opposite would be true, but I guess that's why I've increasingly used the word "seemingly" to begin sentences when explaining life. Oh, to return to the boyhood neighborhood where the world was your oyster, and life wasn't lost in the explanation of it.
But I digress. I only speak of the wearing down that happens over time making you painfully aware of things that break you into pieces; pieces like Pastor/Person. And yet, there is something in me rebelling that division. I'm fighting tooth and nail to be both simultaneously. I'm fighting to not lose my personhood in my priesthood. I'm fighting to hold tightly to each role knowing the loss of either invalidates both. The church has suffered greatly from Pastors who forgot they were People. I think the opposite is also true, that we live in a world filled with People who have forgotten that God has called them to be Pastors (caretakers, sheep-tenders, shepherds of humanity). There's a bit of holy and human in us all, really. The disregard of that reality spirals us into a tailspin of madness.
I am a person. I am human. I love being human. I love my frailty, my fragility, my finicky fascinations and fetishes. I love my weaknesses as well. I'm a sucker for feeling things deeply to my own detriment. I love that. I love that I can't help myself from being swept up into the stew of story...whether it's a love story, horror story, or sob story. I'm undeniably and irresistibly human through and through. "Fearfully human" as Anne Lamott eloquently says. If someone is looking for chinks in my armor or chips in my character, they will surely find them. The reason being I love my life and I stubbornly refuse to treat myself inhumanely for the sake of image. I know a good many pastor-posers who have fallen hard due to this self-destructive/seductive inhumanity.
I am a pastor. I love being a pastor. I love caring for people's souls. I love seeing life change and being right there when it happens in real-time. I love listening to people share their struggles for the first time. I love expelling the darkness with truth. I love reminding people of their glory and taking their hopeless grope and attaching it to a gropeless hope. A hope that isn't something you touch with your senses, for hope that is seen is no hope at all as it says in the Scriptures. Helping people toward hope is what I live for. I love being a see-eye dog for the blind, a crutch for the cripple, an IV drip for the famished, a hug for the hurting, and hand for the amputated. And it is this divine calling that compels me to give when I have nothing left. And I will not treat myself indivinely which is just as detrimental as treating myself inhumanely, in my humble opinion. And so I seek to cling to the one without losing the other. And herein lies the dilemma that led me to write this in this first place. I've come a full circle now, haven't I?
Maybe this is the circle of life. If so, I suppose I shall be running in circles the remainder of my earthly life. But if keeping both alive means feeling like I'm running in circles, I will embrace this dizzy discipleship.