Monday, December 21, 2015

December 21, 2015: The Darkest Day of the Year

This is the season for depression.  Darkness reigns, people's expectations for family often fail them, needs are high, weather is more difficult, everyone's stress is high.  It is a difficult time to live, and people want to make changes, they want to strip away their commitments, seek peace in a different way.

I am no different.  My body doesn't know the difference between night and day, so I wake earlier, this morning at 3:30 AM. My thoughts of leaving this ministry have returned, especially as I am getting more pressure from the city, from my co-church, from my denomination to disrespect and further ostracize the homeless.  They don't know they are disrespecting the poor, but when I point it out, they don't seem to care either.  My co-pastor told me this week that he's gone.  He'll be leaving the end of this week.  He's been my faithful sidekick for the past... decade?  Something like that.  I knew he was going to go, but I didn't know it would be so abruptly. He said that he can't handle the pressure from these various forces.  He also recommended that I call a lawyer.

Despite my desperate need to change, I started working with another homeless group this week.  A camp that has been rejected by another camp, and they needed organization and help.  The leader, Wes, just wanted to make sure that everyone was fed. And so he was thrown out of the original camp for feeding the "outsider" and anyone who stood by him was similarly ostracized.  So I've been helping him organize and contact the city in the hopes of being able to settle in a new spot.  My co-pastor said that I'm too controlling and involved in too much.  He's probably right.  But with the floods and desperate people, it is not time to have everyone thrown out of the camp, roughed up by police.  I need to do something.

I guess that's my mantra: I need to do something.  I've got skills and I need to give them to people who are desperate.  Yes, it will wear me down.  But I can't do nothing.

I have learned something about my rest, however.  I am a type "A" personality, for the most part.  I push myself and others to work, to accomplish something, to create some good.  And this is fine, despite the high risk of heart attack.  Some of us need to work so that others might rest.

But I need rest as well.  But I'm realizing that getting away from people isn't enough.  I also need to get away from my ambitions, my drive to act, to produce.  To really rest, I need both silence and surrender.  I must become a type "B" personality, for a while.  I must not only get free from the incessant talking and drama, I must be free from my own accomplishing.

This means that working on writing isn't the only rest I need.  I need to rest from all, to rely on God, to give Him the space to create peace in my heart.  Only then will I be ready to love.

Let the night come.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

December 8, 2015

It's been a bit since my last journal entry because I've been busy writing my first novel, and then because winter hit Portland, forcing me to keep busy giving shelter to those who have none.

After September and October, I was feeling great.  I've achieved the balance I desired and I began losing weight. The rest and spiritual renewal was life transforming, and I've been doing great.

Until I'm not.

I started winding down in November, and my spiritual director and I scratched our head over it until we realized that my exhaustion came back just as I was spending time writing almost 2000 words a day on a novel.  Yeah, that exhausts a person.

In the midst of this, I had a terrible meeting with church leadership, wanting to cut back on our ministry with the homeless, without discussing anything from the homeless point of view.

Right on the heels of me finishing my 50,000 words (not quite done with the first draft of my novel), a cold snap and an ice storm came in, forcing us to be open during the day for a full week and one overnight opening.

Then the city of Gresham gave us a fine for 350 dollars for "unlawful camping", which they could fine us every day.

And I got word that a police representative is going around to neighborhood meetings telling them that he is holding me responsible for everything that the homeless do in our area.

Good feeling gone.

I mean, I get it.  This is real life.  This is the job I chose.  This is the difficulties of ministring to a group of the outcast, the rejected, the desperately needy.

But I am back in that torn place of needing to help those who are desperate, to defend them, but not having the energy to do so.

People want to have meetings, but I just want some space, some quiet, some time to be left by myself.  People want me to lead, to take charge, to fight the good fight and I just want to hide.

It's not so bad right now.  I'm just tired.  But I know where this is heading.  I've been there before.