So this is the part 2 that I never got around to writing last week. When I was in grad school at Emory – yay Candler! – I often saw the same nurse practioner when I would go to Student Health Services. She was great. Can’t say enough good things! One of the first things she said to me though has stuck in my mind since then. She made the comment that we theology students were her worst patients. She said that we were a masochistic bunch and would rather suffer and be sick than be well.
As much as at the time I thought it was pretty rude, obnoxious and completely untrue, the more I got to know her and the more I looked around me – there’s a lot of truth there. We can say we’re too busy to go to the doctor or that there’s so much more “ministry” to do, that this isn’t just a job, etc. but the reality is we’re most of the time pretty cruddy examples to our people/students of good patterns of self-care and tending to that whole body as the temple of God thing.
Now I was going to write this last week after my part 1, but then Tuesday I went to the doctor and was told I had a sinus infection and then I was still feeling cruddy on Friday so I went back to the doctor. This time he said I have mono. So yes, you are reading a very hypocritical voice now. I completely and utterly admit it.
The sad thing is that when I went to the waiting room to get bloodwork, lo and behold but here was another campus minister from Winthrop who was sick too. We both went through the usual excuses of we should have been taking better care of ourselves, eaten better, slept more, taken a day off, etc. but knowing her and knowing me – I don’t think we were all that convincing.
A couple weeks ago I had a conversation with another campus minister colleague about days off. We pretty much admitted that we mean to and we try to but it’s hard to actually fit it in with everything that pops up or should I say shows up at your office door, with student ministry. Even now I feel like I’m giving excuses. Which I probably am.
So why am I saying all this? We – ministry professionals, counseling folks, people in these lovely people professions – we’ve got to take care of ourselves. I know it’s hard with the neverending to do lists or demands on time, but if we have one foot in the grave all the time, that doesn’t do anyone any good either.
The suggested Bible reading for the Upper Room this morning was 2 Corinthians 4:8-12, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” I read that and I think you see even if I feel like crap right now, Jesus is still within me shining on and I’m all good.
And part of that is sort of true – if Jesus could have preached for me yesterday because I was exhausted. However, we can’t look at verses like these and think that we’re these invincible people. The Holy Spirit works with a lot of “used up” folks – very true – but sometimes we’ve got to take care of ourselves and make ourselves lay down in green pastures and still waters and restore our souls.
So – yes, I am going to work on the Wesley checkbook (fun…not) and begin our next newsletter, but then I’m going home to spend the afternoon with the kids. Not necessarily what I would call restful, but hopefully still restorative. We’ve got to grab hold of the little snippets of peace and relaxation as much as we can. The students and I talked about this on Wednesday night and they amazed me at how busy and stressed they are. We asked how do you relax and some said things like – take a shower, go to sleep, take a walk – really basic things. Part of me thought – your time for yourself is just those 10 minutes in the shower??? But then again, I’m glad they’re taking it when and where they can.
May today we find moments of peace, replenishment, restoration, and rest in the midst. May we listen to our own advice – oh yeah, we need to rest and have quiet time with God, too – and hold true to the Spirit at work within us. May we not be pulled in a million directions but may we center upon the One who created us and is journeying with us in all the twists and turns.
Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
How do you get Sabbath rest? What restores your soul? What helps settle into your bones and gives you perfect peace?