Of course we want pain to dissipate quickly. Of course we do. “I want to sit interminably in agony facing the unknown,” said no one ever.
The County Sheriff called me early one evening over 30 years ago to help him tell one of my parishioners that her husband had died in a car accident. G & C were the parents of two young daughters. When C saw me walk in with the Sheriff, she knew it was terrible news. G had just left to run an errand. In fact, I had seen him on that errand just an hour before.
I’ve never forgotten her first words upon hearing the news: “I wish it were a year from now.” C had hope that it would get better. But the present moment and the next several months would be utter hell.
We generally like to speed through feelings. We prefer to speed through deep discernment. We even like our food fast.
But we can’t speed through the big things:
- Healing After Trauma
- Spiritual Discernment
- Intimate Relationships
75 years ago today the Auschwitz concentration camps were liberated by the Soviet Union. Just yesterday the family of Kobe Bryant lost him and his 13 year old daughter Gianna. The two traumas are totally different and yet both have left human beings with lifelong repercussions – as all traumas do. The first directly impacted over a million people who were inmates in the camps. The second took the lives of nine people. Both indirectly impacted many more millions.
We can’t speed through trauma and trauma is rampant throughout the world these days. This means we need to be gentle with each other. Someone you meet today will be dealing with some level of trauma. Be kind.
In my denomination, it takes an average of between 9 and 18 months to call a new pastor. This is especially frustrating for people in the fields of business and education and medicine. In those professions, the processes for recruiting and hiring new bankers, teachers, janitors, dentists, police officers, and accountants is generally swift. Not so much for finding a new spiritual leader because it’s about the Holy Spirit and sometimes the Spirit speaks slowly and humans listen even more slowly.
We can’t speed through spiritual discernment and please believe me when I say that it’s better to be without a settled pastor than wish you didn’t have one. The wrong pastor can damage, hinder, and confuse God’s people. Let God lead the process and – while you’re at it – notice in scripture how God rarely calls the obvious leader. Someone you know might be on a pastor search committee. Be patient.
We can’t speed through relationships if we want them to be meaningful. All important relationships take time. Our kids need unscheduled conversation time. We need time with our partners to talk about more than calendars. Our friends deserve our time. If we hope to have a relationship with God, it will take time.
Relationships break for millions of reasons but they all seem to relate back to time. We need time to listen to each other – which is more than waiting for our turn to talk. We need time to share stories – sometimes over and over again. We need time to disclose fears and hopes. There is someone in your life today who will need more than a quick DM or text. Be attentive.
[Note: We cannot humanly have intimate relationships with more than a handful of people. It’s impossible. It’s healthy to keep boundaries and protect the time we and our closest loved ones need.]
It’s Monday and the week ahead will be busy. Chances are that every week is busy. Let’s take our time.
Image of the oldest working astronomical clock in the world made by the clock maker Hanuš in Prague in 1410. Read the interesting story about this clock here.
Agree. I was thinking of these statements after your Dear Search Committee blog. The Holy Spirit guides us and generous time is needed. To rush, based on being weary, bored, ready to move on and so forth is not being true to the purpose of the prayerful and spiritual nature of a search. It is not an easy nor rapid task but dedicated time helps to avoid mistakes in the name of a hopeful congregation.
Thank you Jan. Well-written, insightful and helpful. Blessings, Cindy
>>The wrong pastor can damage, hinder, and confuse God’s people. << The very reason we had to step away from our Baptist church of 39 years. But, God had good things in store for us, leading us to our current Presbyterian congregation.