Yes, I understand that I have done a lot of good these past 22 years. I haven't been a failure all that time. But I feel like a failure now. Here's some reasons:
1. I have to quit leadership of the organization I started
As if I'm no good at leading what I started. Well, some might claim that was always true. I certainly know some neighbors of Red Barn who think that way. But I think they consider my work good only if I got rid of all homeless people. That's the only condition under which they will stop complaining, anyway.
But I've led this for 22 years, come up with a lot of ideas and now I'm done. That just sucks, and I feel horrible about it. I feel like I've given up on everyone.
St. Francis got fired from the organization he started as well. What a loser.
2. I nurtured the person who betrayed me
The situation that really overwhelmed me to the breaking point is having a person distribute meth on the property. This is a person I worked with, prayed for, tried to heal spiritually and emotionally, providing housing and work and finances for. Worked with to get him on disability. Fought for. And he betrays me and the work by distributing the one thing he knows I hate and is a terrible tool of oppression. He manipulated the situation because he knew what I would do and what I wouldn't do. And he lied to me repeatedly.
Jesus also supported and discipled his betrayer. What a failure.
3. The help for the homeless has to reduce
I have fed and provided for the homeless for decades. Now that will have to reduce. People will have to figure out their own locations to move, figure out where they will get their own food. Of course, self-sustenance is always a better answer for the poor all around the world than dependence. My work has always been with an eye to productivity and self-sustenance and helping the homeless take hold of their own solutions.
But this happens through having a place to be, a center of reduced stress so they can create their own solutions. Now that will happen without me. I have to move on.
Just like Paul, when he was persecuted, left every town he started a church in and gave the leadership to others. He had to leave so quickly that sometimes he didn't know who the leaders were! What a git.
4. I lose my friends
I have always been there. I have always been available. I was there every week, even when I was exhausted, even when others had holidays, I didn't. I was faithful. Now I don't know who I will see or what will happen. But one thing for sure, if I am going to heal I need to reduce the number of people I connect with. Hopefully this will only be for a short time. But possibly not. I might leave and not come back. And it will be my choice. I didn't have a stroke, I didn't collapse in my work. I didn't die. I am just gone.
I am a failure as a friend. I am a failure as a person who has always been there.
Like St. Therese of the Infant Jesus, I chose to follow the path of the saint. I gave away everything I had, I surrendered my job, my home. I gladly worked with people who disdained me. I took all the persecution and suffering. Unfortunately, unlike St. Therese, I didn't die young. The longer you pursue sainthood, the harder it is to maintain. Saintliness-- loving your enemy, loving the poor, improving other people's lives but not your own, being wise for everyone but yourself-- takes it's toll over time. Frankly, it can't be sustained. If you want to be a saint, be a martyr as well. Or be sickly. I'd give a life of saintliness about ten years. Mind you, that's about the time that you learn some wisdom in your path of saintliness. For the first ten years you're all gusto and power and looking down your nose at Christians who aren't as saintly as you. For the second ten years you start to feel the cost and work on burnout. By the time you reach twenty years (and that's pretty good) you either learn balance or quit. I never did learn balance.
Jesus had three years of being a saint. I just learned that in MLK Jr.'s civil rights movement, they gave each person five years of intense work and then recommended that they live a normal life. Paul ended his life of missionary work in anxiety and feeling rejected by everyone. Elijah ended his life of prophethood begging for death. Let's face it, sainthood isn't for anyone in the long term.
I really thought I could reach the distance. Instead, I am bitter and angry and ready to quit. I prayed to die. I prayed for a stroke (my wife thinks that this is horrible-- why should she have to take care of me for the rest of my life because I'm tired?) I have lost the love and passion that drove me on for years.
Yes, we opened a house for the homeless and had dozens of people living here. Yes, we had a center for the homeless and helped perhaps a thousand people. And we did all this without asking for funds, depending on God and prayer. Yes, I was a peacemaker for years. Yes, I loved people whom no one else loved. But in the end, I couldn't sustain it.
Dammit. I'm human. And that really pisses me off.