Monday, December 01, 2014

Unwanted. advent.

One of my many weaknesses has always been a feeling of being unwanted - the idea that people don't want me around. I grew up as a high school principal's son, and everybody knows that no one likes the principal's kid. Teachers didn't want me in their class because my dad was their boss, and many students either wanted to get the principal's kid in trouble, or they thought they could avoid getting in trouble by befriending me (not all, but many). I have grown old with these thoughts/memories ingrained in my mind.

It wasn't really much better when I was pastoring a church. I would often feel that people didn't want me around. A lot of people don't want the pastor knowing what they're 'really' like, or they would be embarrassed if they slipped and said a bad word, or they didn't want me to "catch them" drinking or smoking or whatever. I never really understood that and, honestly, it annoyed me to no end when people felt like they needed to apologize to me or be different around me because of who I was.

I suppose all this made it that much harder then when I was told by a handful of board members that not only did they not want me to be the pastor at their church anymore, but they didn't even want to talk to me and didn't want anyone else from the church to talk to me! I guess I must be a pretty terrible person to warrant such estrangement.

It's not really any better now - wiling my time away as an hourly working stiff. I've had several people at work make reference to the fact that they don't really expect me to stay there because they think it's just a stop-gap position until I can "get back on my feet again." I appreciate the sentiment, but again, it just reinforces to me that I'm not really wanted... ANYWHERE.

We have also gotten the same feeling from several churches we've tried to attend or be part of. I thought most churches WANTED new people to show up on Sundays, but we sure have gotten a different idea from actually visiting around. It has really made both of us question ourselves and our past beliefs.

Now, certainly, I do know this is not all truth. I know there are a few people who enjoy my company, and I have actually had one friend ask me to join his church staff (unpaid), but this is how I FEEL. So the struggle has always been balancing the way I feel and think, with the reality of the situation. Reality can often be such an elusive little flirt.

Anyway, I was going down my Facebook news feed the other day and Travis Reed posted an interview with theologian Stanley Hauerwas. I'm not sure which one of them said it, but there was this quote: "God has made us a people of promise in a world of impatience. Advent is a recovery of how to live in a world of impatience as a patient people."

Go ahead and read over that again. I'll wait...

I can't really make a direct connection, but as I read that, and thought about it, it reminded me of all these feelings of being unwanted that I've grown old with. Maybe I'm just tempted to make that second statement, "Advent is a recovery of how to live in a world that doesn't want me/us... as a people who really are Wanted (by God)."

Advent... God 'among us'... is such an incredible thing. Learning to live as though God is 'with us' - or 'for us - is an equally incredible thought.

I dunno... I had a lot of thoughts about this, but now I can't seem to put them on the keyboard. It just seems a lot of people don't want religion or Jesus or anything to 'cramp their style'... so He is somewhat 'unwanted.' Yet, I believe he really, really does want to be with us. He has gone to great lengths to be with us. Yet for some reason we can't seem to wait for the Kingdom dance to take place.

Eh, who knows? I am sure I will probably always struggle with feeling unliked and unwanted... but that shouldn't be what guides my thinking and/or living. As much as I feel it, or think it, it's not The Truth. I know that, but it doesn't make it any easier to live it. Such is the tension of living in the now-and-the-not-yet. Such is Advent. Waiting... Hoping... Persevering...

I was already thinking all these thoughts, and then came yesterdays teaching at our worship gathering. It was good. Hopefully I will get it posted in the near future.


MR said...

You shortened by comment by about two pages when you made the point that you feel that way despite knowing the reality of it.

Good one, today. Man vs. Nature and Man vs. Man are some of the best blogs.

I think for the most-part I've turned off the need for validation; my family and people I respect excepted. Generally when I meet a new person, I expect them to be cliché and banal, and I'm surprised when I'm surprised. So, obviously their opinion of me doesn't matter much, but I feel like I had to arrive at that. I just didn't want other people controlling my mood. Unfortunately I think this requires a layer of inner insulation that you are wont to install because of your heart-kept profession; you're still a Pastor. So, people will have a handle on you. I don't know that I would suggest to anyone to become callous and jaded about people if they've avoided it this long. But, I bet if you add it to the list of things you're holding on to because it makes you a good Pastor, it will serve a purpose.

I should point out though, that you're absolutely right about people treating you differently. That may have created a bubble that shielded you from seeing the negative side of people. So, again I applaud your idea to find friends "outside the church". And it's interesting to think that this bubble may have been the reason you didn't develop the thick skin so many of us have. I know you weren't a Pastor your whole life, but at least in my case, I didn't discover any really screwed up people until I was about 30. No doubt they were there, and I just didn't perceive them. At some point after that, good-bye idealism, hello emotional independence.

bill Sloat said...

Poignantly said.

I've met Stanley Hauerwas. He was, at our meeting, the most arrogant person I have ever met--and I have lived in the New York City area!¡!