Strange Days

This is from a blog I enjoy.  I thoroughly emphathize with this guy and I haven't even left ministry.  This is my question:
What the hell are we supposed to do about people feeling this way?  Ministry burnout is so real and it makes God feel too small. 

Strange days

I am in such a strange place, emotionally. It’s been a little over three months since I left professional ministry. People have asked me how I’m doing with that decision. I say the same thing every time.
I don’t know.
I knew it would take some time before the fullness of this transition could take root in my life. These first few months have felt like being on vacation. My mind knows that I am no longer the pastor of a church, but my heart isn’t buying it. Some part of me thinks that any day now I’ll be back in the pulpit.
But I won’t be. I’m not going back. At least not for the foreseeable future. I’ve learned not to say more than that.
I attend Covenant Baptist Church about half the time. Sometimes I sit in silence with the Quakers. Sometimes I go elsewhere. A few Sundays I have spent with Jeanene in blissful laziness, sipping tea or eating a late brunch. It’s so strange for me to be sitting in a diner eating eggs and french toast at 11:00 am on a Sunday. I keep looking around and wondering whose life I’m living.
Like many writers I pay a lot of attention to what’s happening to me emotionally and intellectually. I listen to my mind. I pay attention to my gut. And I’m noticing some strange things are going on with me.
I have a powerful aversion to anyone needing anything from me. I don’t want anyone to need me, apart from my wife and children. I still get emails from people asking my advice. I can hardly open them. I started an online Bible study, did two studies, and then fell apart. I can’t do it. Not now. Maybe someday. I don’t want to give advice. I don’t want to preach. I don’t want to go see people in the hospital. I don’t really want to be around people that much right now, out of a fear that they might start needing me.
It’s not a healthy way to be. It’s not the way I want to be in the long run. But right now that is my reality.
I also have some very negative feelings about the Church. Not the church I was at. I love Covenant Baptist Church. But the larger Church. I don’t want to talk about the Church. I don’t want to read books about the Church. I don’t care if the Church in America is relevant or growing or cutting edge or post-modern. I have almost no interest in the Church.
I’m not sure what that’s about.
I am very interested in God. And I’m interested in my own acts of prayer and devotion. Currently the best spiritual practice I have is mowing the lawn at Covenant and tending our labyrinth. I feel happy doing those things. No one sees the work I do. No one talks to me. No one needs anything from me. It’s pure service, and I love it.
I have also been isolating myself quite a bit. I spend most of my time alone. The contact I have with other people is very limited right now. But that feels good to me. At some point I assume I’ll come back out of my shell.
And then there is this: I’m not sure what affect all of this will have on my writing. For the first time since 2002, I have found it difficult to be interested in writing. I wrote a lot in the first weeks after leaving Covenant. But now my heart and mind and soul are turned toward the difficult task of finding a job. So I’ll continue to peck out a few words here, but I really don’t know what’s going to happen to Gordon Atkinson the writer.


Ways to Create Space

In my Youth Ministry class we're reading Christianity Rediscovered by Vince Donovan.  Donovan talks about his journey of evangelizing the Masai tribe in Africa.  He talks about two movements in that journey that I just LOVE.

He moves from thinking he knows everything to accepting that he knows nothing. 
He moves from thinking he knows the way to follow Jesus to waiting to figure out what following Jesus looks like.

Both are essential to sharing Jesus; both are essential to following Jesus.
Both create space.


Can't Change this Change

"It's a little Anxious." Piglet said to himself, "to be a Very Small Animal Entirely Surrounded  by Water.  Christopher Robin and Pooh could escape by Climbing Trees, and Kanga could escape by Jumping, and Rabbit could escape by Burrowing, and Owl could escape by Flying, and Eeyore could escape by-- by Making a Loud Noise Until Rescued, and here am I, surrounded by water and I can't do anything."

Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne pg. 131


At a time like this...

At a time like this, when everything is beginning to transition and change:
It is a beautiful endurance to be fully present each day.


One Month

One month ago I got my tattoo.

Isn't it funny that the month I permanently brand my flesh with the word of God I want to abandon my faith? 
Yes, it's fucking hilarious.

But in this attitude of bewilderment at God, feeling lost in the abyss of broken grey that smothers our world, wanting to scream out the words of Christ on the cross, I feel peace in knowing that the flesh on my right shoulder will never return to the uniform pink it once was.  

It is much more complicated than that. 
I am thankful. 
God has fenced me in.

I am forced to sigh in my spirit and know that God is. 


Roy Street

One table away from me sits a professionally dressed man. His gray hair and deep lines that stretch from his eyes catch my eye.  With the sun glowing from behind his shoulder, he drinks his coffee and reads the newspaper.

I should like to have an afternoon like his someday.


It is I

" [God says,] 'It is I' that is to say, 'It is I: the power and goodness of fatherhood. It is I: the wisdom of motherhood. It is I: the light and the grace which is all blessed love. It is I: the Trinity. It is I: the unity. I am the soverign goodness of all manner of things. It is I that make you love. It is I that make you long. It is I: the eternal fulfillment of all true desires."
-Julian of Norwich