Friday, July 31, 2015

July 30, 2015

Well, I have spoken to doctors and to a psychologist, to a spiritual director and to friends... even to strangers.  I think the conclusion is clear: I am not fit to do my job.  Oh, there's always the possibility that an anti-depressant might help.  Perhaps if I got back on a lower dose of testosterone that I don't need to get shot with.  But no matter what, I can't keep doing this, to this depth, at this level.

I am often overwhelmed, and feel unable to take on anything else, or do anything else.  When I feel this way, I can't talk to anyone.  People tell me "Just ask and I'll do it", but I can't speak.  That's the last thing I can do.

Sometimes when I'm overwhelmed to speak is to yell, unnecessarily. At this point, I'm breaking relationships, not restoring.  I can always apologize later, but there's only so often that I can apologize without being seen as a hypocrite.  I tell everyone, believe what you see people do, not what you hear people say. Then I am a workaholic, an unfair judge, an impatient, stingy man.  Of course, I am also generous, supportive, peacemaker.  It just depends on which mood I'm in.  Salt water and fresh can't come out of the same mouth.  A man cannot be ordered about by two masters.  Something's gotta give.

The easy answer is to say that I should quit, let someone else run things and just write.  That's what I'd like to do.  But there's no one to run it.  Everyone who is willing isn't able.  Those who are able aren't willing or are too ill or broken down to function.  Some are both willing and able, but can't work on the below-poverty level I've been living at.  Lack of training? Lack of will?  Something around there.

So what if I just walked away?  Just allowed the Lord to re-order the work I've done?  This is a difficult choice and not one I can do in a godly manner.  If I walked away, the fragile hold that us four congregations have on the property will unravel.  We don't have another Mennonite pastor to take over Anawim to represent ourselves to the PNMC... well, maybe one, but she wouldn't want it. Sanctuary/Redbarn/Anawim is the hub of the Gresham Day Shelter network of churches.  Just like in St. Johns, if I walked away from that, all the ends would crumble.

If I walked away, that would also mean walking away from the house, which is just as much stress on me as anything else. This means seven people out on the street.  Two of which wouldn't have anywhere else to go.

And there are all the people of Gresham.  The street folks.  Some think they don't need us.  Most know better.  Everyone on the street in East County agrees that if Redbarn isn't open during the winter, people will die.  And others will be sick, get frostbite, suffer from hypothermia.  Not to mention go hungry, lack self-respect and the streets of Gresham will go back to the violence and wreck it was twenty years ago.

Some may think I think too much of myself to say that it would all fall apart without me.  But I just found out that the final ministry to St. Johns is shutting down, six months after we shut down, trying to find others to train and take our place.  No one else trained, and the ministries shut their doors one by one.  The street folks are still better off than they were before we came, so there's that.

But Gresham is held by a thread.  Usually, it wasn't held at all, but now it's by a thread.  And that thread is keeping this juggling act going between the city and the homeless and the neighbors and the churches-- convincing them all that we can live with the others.  Care for them and support them.  I think Pete Blaine is trying to do this, but it requires a lot of energy.

Let alone being generous with a couple thousand pounds of food, a facility to keep clean for the many meetings that use it, balancing fair pay with fair treatment and fair boundaries. I've been flying by the seat of my pants for so long, I don't even know how to explain half of what I do.  It just makes sense.  And we survive and grow toward another day.

I'd love to hand it off, to walk away.  But I couldn't live with the consequences if I did.  So I keep on, some days doing well, and some not so well.  But still holding that thread together.  I pray for God's deliverance, for Jesus to send someone else, like he did with Elisha.  I'm not looking for a chariot of fire.  An elevator will do.

In the meantime, as the voices grow more frequent and louder and multiply that I'm not fit for the job, that I'm a poor leader, that I'm doing it all wrong, I just need to remember to not be angry.  They are right.  I'm sure someone else can do a much better job than I.  I'm sure.

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