Monday, October 24, 2011

A Failure of Nerve and Interpersonal Relationships

I need advice.

Things at BT are still rough. It's very similar to what I went through at SJ, and that is painful for me on so many levels. I know it's also very painful for Mac. Well, duh, it's more painful for Mac. He's the pastor. I'm just Random Non-appointed Clergy Person. He's in the middle of it; I'm on the periphery.

I've prayed about why God brought me to BT at this time in my life and ministry and at this season in BT's life, and how I can best support the congregation, the leaders, and Mac.

I felt, and still feel, that perhaps God is calling me to be present for them. To be in prayer, to fulfill my current ministry responsibilities, and to use my gifts to encourage them and challenge them when necessary. I also promised myself and God that I would speak for Mac in meetings...that I would have his back...if and when the time came.

The time came last Monday, and I had what Edwin Friedman calls "a failure of nerve".

During our Church Council meeting last Monday, the SPRC chair attacked Mac. It wasn't a personal attack, but it was about a subject that was not appropriate for the gathering; it belonged in their committee or between them.

 I said nothing. Words failed me. I couldn't say anything, and I'm still not sure why. I did glare at our Church Council chair, who quickly shut it down.

But, I left that meeting in tears, and that was a major reason. I felt that I had failed Mac, and I was angry at myself for having failed Mac.

A few hours later, I sent Mac an e-mail, apologizing for what happened. His response, "thank you for your words".

After seeing my counselor the next day, it occurred to me that perhaps I should have apologized to Mac over the phone versus e-mail, because it would have given him a chance to respond (I have avoidance issues; we can talk about that later).

So, the next day I called him, and asked if we needed to "clear the air", so to speak, about what happened Monday night. He said that the SPRC chair was in the front office, people could hear conversations, busy day, etc. All perfectly logical reasons, so I let it go. I did send him an e-mail later, telling him that I would rather have an uncomfortable conversation than for there to be any "bad blood" between us. He didn't respond to that e-mail.

We've e-mailed and texted a few times, but it's all been task-related, and there has been no mention of anything beyond the surface. Not entirely unusual, but kind of frustrating for me, given that I opened up the door for a conversation.

Being my INFP, highly relational self, this is absolutely eating me up inside. I am well aware that Mac is not as relationally-oriented as I am, that this is a crazy busy time, that the combination of the above two factors means that this issue has probably not even crossed his mind very much. There's also a strong possibility that our relationship doesn't mean as much to him as it does to me, which is fine and also fairly expected (after all, it was HIS sermons that made ME cry). I just don't want there to be bad blood between us. I'll be at OG for another eight months, and even after that, we're clergy in the same annual conference. We will run into each other for the next 20 years, and I'd just as soon not be reminded each time I see him that we parted on less-than-stellar terms. should I proceed? Give him another week, and then bring it up and demand to meet with him? Call him sooner than that? Just give it to God and see what happens? At the very least, I would like to hear, "Oh, that? It didn't even cross my mind. Not even a blip on the radar. We're cool." or "Yes, I'm angry, but I'm still processing and need more time" or something in between.

What should I do, my friends?

1 comment:

Terri said...

It's quite likely that he is busy handling the conflict that is brewing and doesn't have the energy to process with you, even if you mean it as an apology or as a way to clear the air.

Having his back does not always require verbal expression. It may not have been your place or appropriate for you to say something in that meeting....although I can't discern this based on the information you have felt safe enough to publish.

Making sure that you work to support him if others complain to you or try to triangulate you is crucial. Working to support his leadership in the various congregational relationships is important.

And then maybe, just asking him, what can I do to assist you? How can I be helpful during this time? What is my role in this conflict?