The short version that I tell everyone, and that is mostly true: things are great, I love my churches, my churches love me, I am thriving, my children are thriving, Harry is coping well with the commute, and I love being a pastor. I feel that I am where God wants me to be. Daily I am seeing signs of God transforming me into the person that God is calling me to be.
I am not lying when I tell people that, because it really is true. However, it's not the WHOLE truth.
Because in addition to the above, I am being stretched thin in so many ways and feeling overwhelmed in so many ways and...I often feel like I'm drowning. The combination of church and family responsibilities, especially when there is a lot going on in both arenas...sometimes has me weeping.
I am getting over period of time where I have been sick for about three weeks. I actually missed one Sunday (fever and flu-like symptoms), began feeling better, made it to church the next week, and then came down with the stomach flu. I did virtually no church work for two weeks, and did the bare minimum at home. I am better now, but dealing with guilt (from missing a Sunday and two meetings) and the pileup of responsibilities from while I was sick.
Tomorrow, I will be doing funeral #9 since mid-September. I am willing to buy everyone who is reading this blog post lunch if death #10 doesn't happen by Easter (NOTE: if you want the lunch, you need to come to the Eastern Shore to collect. The closest airport is in Norfolk, 45 minutes away).
I know how to be a pastor. I know how to be a mother. I know how to be a wife. I know how to be a follower of Jesus. However, balancing all of those, doing all of those decently, and trying to improve in at least a few of those areas...has me in frustrated and guilty tears more than once a week.
My churches ARE extremely supportive. God is teaching me a lot about grace through them. They keep telling me to take care of myself, and a few people offer suggestions like "take a nap", "read a book not related to ministry", "spend time with your family". They see me as a person, they have embraced Harry and the kids, they even like my dog. My ministry with them has been very effective. I keep receiving affirmation from them, and I can see fruits of our ministry together.
I have a decent support system, although it is still in development. I see my therapist every two weeks, I am seeking out a spiritual director, I have a clergy support group Across the Bay (how we on the Shore refer to areas south of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel) that I attend every week, there is another one here on the Shore that I attend once a month or so (both groups are 45 minutes away, and Mac is in the one Across the Bay, and they tend to be more outside-the-box, so I tend to go there). I am trying to grow and improve in my disciplines of soul care, although I admit that I struggle in that area. Writing often helps me process, which is why I'm back to blogging after a hiatus.
So...is it normal for me to be feeling like this? Stretched out, overwhelmed, crying a few times a week, often feeling like I'm drowning? Yet, at the same time, I feel that this is where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing. Very similar to all those Sundays when Mac's sermon made me cry and left me feeling raw. I just naively thought that it would END. But, it HASN'T. Will it ever end?