Where I Live

I’ve got this cold that just won’t quit. In fact, I really haven’t had it long, but it is beating me down. I have to pull it together because I preach on Sunday so there needs to be a sermon and voice by 8:00am.

This particular cold comes with a generous side of exhaustion and malaise. Which might not be the cold’s fault. Looking back over my calendar, I have’t had a 24 hour chunk of time to family, let alone to myself, in the last 3 weeks. I’ve taken time off, but there have been a whole cluster of little events that have squeezed their way into my day off, and some slightly larger events that have eaten up entire evenings.

None of this is the classic church cocktail of catastrophes or funerals. It’s just the generic mixture of meetings and regional-church committees, youth group trips, mailings to send out, worship to plan…patch that together with taking care of Zora and still being on the learning curve about what it’s like to be married to someone with a 2+ hour commute, and I’m not really surprised that I’m sick.

Maybe my cold is not all virus.

And it’s not that I’m writing here to complain either. I know this happens sometimes, and I knew what I was getting into when I started doing this. And I am very grateful and blessed by many things, like the fact that my husband and co-worker both pushed me to take vacation time a few weeks ago, and maybe both were actually wise enough to see this coming, because as of next Thursday, that vacation will be here!

But I wish I worked in a such a way that when I did start to break down with a cold or just general malaise, I could take 36 hours to just hole up at home, with no work committments.

At the same time, I know that it’s hard for the people I minister to to take time…I know they are busy and over-stretched, chasing kids and jobs and dogs and bills and church work and volunteer work, and all that stuff. I know they are commuting from the city and traveling for work and  just trying to hang in there most of the time.

And sometimes, I start to think that part of the insanity of parenting young kids, working full time as a pastor (with a spouse who works full time, too) is just part of doing incarnational ministry in the suburbs. I love that translation of John 1 in The Message: “The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.” If being in ministry is about following Jesus and being real and fleshy and incarnational, then one of the things we do as pastors is move into the neighborhood. It’s rare that ministers live in exactly the place or circumstances that they would live if they could choose any place. We go where we are called. Even if that means living far from family and close friends, even if that means leaving the geography you love most, even if that means your spouse commutes a whole lot farther than you would ever choose.

Sometimes this means that yu move in nex door to the people in an urban slum, or down the road from everyone else ina  struggling farm community. Sometimes it means a highrise in a city. Sometimes it means a place where the language and food and customs are foreign to you, and you look different than anyone else.

For me right now, I think being incarnational means that I live here in the outer ring suburbs, and I work full time while trying to faithfully raise my kid, and my husband commutes a ridiculous distance to his job, and I am just trying to scrape together 36 hours to get over this cold.

It’s not as glamorous as some of the places I could be called, but it’s where I’m supposed to live.

3 Responses to “Where I Live”

  1. meg Says:

    Thanks for this, Erica.

    Today is my first REAL 24 hours off in . . . oh, probably since Christmas. But the sermon for Sunday isn’t finished, so the temptation is just to chip away at it a little today, even though I know I’ve scheduled time for it tomorrow.

    Also, our church year is themed, “The Year of the Neighbor” so we OFTEN find ourselves referring to the Message’s John 1 translation. Thanks for the reminder, though. That all of this is a participation with Christ.

    Blessings and Dayquil to you!

  2. Dan (Lisa actually) Vos Says:

    Our empathy is with you… we’ve got a dad and a kiddo with colds, a mom who’s healthy enough but energy-depleted from being 9 months pregnant, and nothing letting up on the church front. I know Dan would also love 36 hours to himself to just hole up and recover (or be miserable). But, we press on.

  3. teri Says:

    hope you feel better soon…and sorry for adding to the things that are happening. I had a cold that began last thursday and now is just a little remnant of congestion, so there’s hope!