Tuesday, August 11, 2015

August 11, 2015--This Is It

I'm done.  I can't do this anymore.

If you only know me from Facebook or my more active blogs, you might think that I'm as active as ever and I'm doing just fine.  If you've read my blogs before, you know there's something wrong, but figure I'll bounce back.

That's what I thought.  I always have before.  I'd faced the worst of burnout before, almost exactly ten years ago, and my wife and I faced it down and kept on with tough ministry, threats, raising our kids, people moving in our home and dying in our home.  It's been great.  But I can't do it anymore.  Something has to radically change.

I knew this a year ago and I set a plan in motion to cut back.  So we did.  We cut back for three months, with only one day a week of normal ministry, and much training and negotiations with neighbors, co-churches and the city.  We were set to open up.

It turns out, I wasn't.  Now I realize it's time to stop, or something.  After the following indications:

a. I read a quote by Mother Teresa which said, "Without love, there can be no justice."  I'd been working for justice, but I don't have any love in my life anymore.  I just don't care.  I'm going through the motions.  I cannot create justice in this context.

b. My spirituality is pretty much dead.  It isn't just that I don't "feel God", which I know doesn't mean anything.  I feel no reason to pray and haven't for a couple years.  I can't go through the motions, and leading worship seems hypocritical.

c. I can barely converse with my wife.  She and I have always had a strong relationship, and we could talk through pretty much anything-- even when I struggled with porn, even when it felt pointless to continue ten years ago.  But I am having a hard time even talking to her right now.  That takes my problems to a new level.

d. Jeff Strong and I both received the same word, which I assume is from God:  I have taken on a double burden-- both what Jesus has given me and what I put on myself.  I need to give up.  That doesn't mean I have to give everything up, necessarily, But it means at least that I've got some serious cutting back to do.  Rose pruning, if not serious digging up.

e. I realize that my spiritual life is related to the time I spend alone in silence.  I also realize that I have surrendered every private place I have to others.  I've got no where to go, but a monastery 40 miles and an hour away.  I know I can gain peace there, but that's quite a commute.

f. I understand this is depression.  I've struggled with it and tried a number of medications, but I'm worse off than I ever was before I tried them.  Ultimately, I need to realize I am no longer the person who started this ministry.

The only thing that really stops me is finding someone who could take my place.  I don't know if I can. Maybe it's time to just give it to God and allow Him to figure out how to help.  Maybe I can just stop taking care of the property, and just run Anawim.  One way or the other, I need at least a month to focus on me and to see if I can establish a little of what I used to have.  Or maybe I just throw in the towel and see what happens.  


Jeanie Owen said...

Spend as much time as you need to read connect with wife and the Creator. Let Him direct your every step in every area of your life. Die to self and live to Him. The relationship with Him is where the meaning and purpose of life is found.

Jeanie Owen said...

Spend as much time as you need to read connect with wife and the Creator. Let Him direct your every step in every area of your life. Die to self and live to Him. The relationship with Him is where the meaning and purpose of life is found.

Steve Kimes said...

I don't want to leave anyone confused: I have meaning and purpose in life. I will never stop the generosity that the Lord calls us to, because it is the purpose both in this life and the life to come. And because I feel distant from God, doesn't mean He is distant from me. Mother Teresa worked for decades without hearing or connecting to God, yet she did His will. This has been the same for me for years.

What I lack is strength to do this level of ministry-- sixty plus hours a week training, encouraging, feeding, serving, loving, organizing the homeless to a greater purpose. But to give up on this is also to give up on the people whom God had called me to serve, many years ago. Is it time? Is it right? If I can't do it in love, should I do it at all? This is what I'm dealing with.

Clare Mulligan said...

I've just come to know you through your Anawim blog. Thank you so much for your honesty.

So it's time to stop. Just stop and take care of yourself. Obviously, Steve. Just stop. No one said a given ministry has to go on until you're destroyed. There are some crosses that Our Lord doesn't want for us, especially if He has something else planned for us -- even if it's just learning to be and accepting that.

Could be depression, but it sounds more like what the desert fathers called acedia. Worth Googling to validate your experience, not as a glib, dismissive diagnosis.

Please take care of yourself and allow yourself to be taken care of. It seems like it's time for that. Yes, you're a creature: limited, fragile, needy. Deo gratias.

Clare Mulligan said...

One more thing. In lectio divina this morning, I read the Lord's words about the need to deny oneself as a condition of following him. I reflected on what that meant to me. For me, it involves letting go of the notion that I'm very special and set apart from everyone else. Denying myself includes seeing myself as just like anyone else.

For you, the cross at this time might be something like that.

Steve Kimes said...

Interesting concept. I'll write more tomorrow.