Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stuck in the middle

I was at this concert last night. It was a "secular" show, but held in a "church" building. As I sat and listened and watched people, it occurred to me that this really sums up my life. I loved the music, and there were so many people there that reminded me of my friends before I went off to seminary and became a pastor. These were the type of people I held in my thoughts while studying, and praying, and dreaming up what church might look like for me. The guys with pony tails and beards down to their bellies, as well as the nervous-looking tattoo-covered, and even the red-neck beer guzzlers. As I sat there looking at them, it seemed so right, like these were my friends. But I knew this was not the case. Because the truth is... I just don't fit with those people anymore. I might not look at them any differently, but I think they look at me differently. And honestly, even though I still think I talk and dress like them, and think of myself as one of them... I am not. I no longer share their worries, and can't really fully relate to their demons anymore. Not all of them anyway. In a way it makes me sad to realize this.

On the other hand, I also saw some of the staff and people from this church at the concert. I have tried on several occasions to connect with them - we are like-minded church leaders, I've always thought. But for whatever reason they don't seem to see me the same. And it's not just them, but I get that from a lot of "pastor types." The language I use, the clothes I wear, the things I talk about... they don't consider me one of them either. This saddens me as well.

So here I am... stuck in the middle. I don't fit here; I don't fit there. Too secular for the religious; too religious for the secular. It is a lonely place to be. Which doesn't mean I don't think it's where God has called me to; and it doesn't mean I always think it's necessarily the wrong place to be. But sometimes I wonder. I often think that it would be nice to take a year off from being a pastor - just so I can know what it's like to be a "normal" person again. But I also know it's quite likely that if I took a sabbatical I would never return from it. At least not in the same capacity or location. I believe that's a documented fact. So I never know... is God teaching me something through this; or am I avoiding something? Maybe I'm not supposed to "fit" anywhere but in God's graces. Kind of like wandering in the desert. Hmm. God has done a lot of good teaching in the desert. But it's a lonely place.

Or maybe everybody feels like this.

I dunno. Just rambling.


MR said...

I'd comment, but I'm wary of investing my intellectual property on any message containing "dunno" as it is likely to collapse in on itself like a house of cards taking my comments with it.

I guess I can muster: "I dunno either."

dan horwedel said...

Yeah... sometimes comments get stuck in the middle too. :)

Jim said...

"Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you."
- Stealer's Wheel (aka Gerry Rafferty channeling Bob Dylan)


I have felt an outsider ALL MY LIFE. But all I can say is that I am a sinner (mea culpa), and yet I identify with you, Mister Small-Church Pastor, even if the "hip" people of that Christian venue did not. Maybe BECAUSE you AREN'T "hip" and don't wear a goatee and don't try to be anything you're not. You're cool, because you aren't trying to be "kewl".

Sounds like a good show. Sorry I missed it.


dan horwedel said...

Hmm... actually, I'm the one with a goatee. Maybe that's the problem.

Jim said...

Well, maybe your cool intimidated THEM. :o)

Joan B. said...

I think everybody's got a "middle" and yours, from my viewpoint, is a hard one to live in. I also think that anybody that says if they took a year's sabbatical, they're pretty sure they wouldn't come back has some thinkin' to do. Always appreciate your honesty.

dan horwedel said...

I didn't necessarily mean that to say I "wouldn't" come back from a sabbatical. But I've read where it's typical that when pastors take a sabbatical, they often leave shortly after coming back. And I don't know that that's necessarily a bad thing either. It takes a certain "kingdom-mindedness" from the congregations standpoint. But I think it contributes to why a lot of pastors don't utilize sabbaticals. But... I do have some thinkin' to do nonetheless. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

JAH said...

I'm not sure if I'm the clown or the joker, but I'm glad I'm stuck with you --- and you with me. :)

Ruth said...

oh my gosh I feel like that all the time!

dan horwedel said...

Welcome to the middle, Ruth. Unless you were welcoming me. ;)