“My demons won today. I’m sorry.” MarShawn McCarrel
Today is February 15, 2016. In the United States of America, it’s the following observances:
- President’s Day – a federal holiday enacted in 1879, initially established to celebrate America’s first president, George Washington’s, birthday. However today we honor all of our president’s.
- Black History Month – we are on the 15th day of a month-long observance. Black history month started as a week-long observance in 1926, however in 1976 it was expanded to Black History Month and officially recognized by the U.S. Government. It’s a time to remember and celebrate the contributions of important people and events in the African Diaspora.
- Lent – we are on the 6th day of this 40-day Christian observance that begins on Ash Wednesday and culminates on Easter Sunday. It is the preparation of the believer through prayer, reflection, self-denial and atonement in recognition the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- MarShawn McCarrel – we are on the 7th day of mourning the loss of the 23-year-old, African American man that was a Compassionate Leader, Poet, and Black Lives Matter Activist. He fought against racism, classism, and every other “ism” of the marginalized.
MarShawn McCarrel had a public passion to help others. By the young age of 23, he had helped launch a mentor program, “Pursuing Our Dreams”, for young people. He helped the homeless by starting “Feed the Streets” organization. He was recognized by Radio One as a nominee for its Hometown Champions Award. He also championed the Black Lives Matters cause in the Columbia Ohio area. Clearly he had a heart to serve others, particularly the underserved and disenfranchised.
McCarrel’s story is truly one of triumph because he was raised in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Columbus, Ohio. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Not middle class by societal standards. All the odds and statistics were against him growing into adulthood and becoming a contributing member of society. But contribute he did. He accomplished so much in such as short lifetime.
His publicly passionate contributions masked a private pain. The weight of his magnanimous call at such a young age took a toll on him. In one of his tweets McCarrel mentioned “If we don’t have to live through hell just to get to heaven. I’ma stay right here with you.”. He decided not to live through the hell. He ended his life on Monday, February 8th.
Although you may think it a strange parallel, his life journey causes me to reflect on the life of clergy. How many of us have our public faces on as we passionately pursue and fulfill the call of God on our lives? How many of us are allowing that public passion to mask the private pain we experience? Masked in the sense that we don’t acknowledge it and therefore don’t get the help we may need to conquer or manage it.
According to the Schaeffer Institute 70% of pastors are depressed and burned out. Masked; undiagnosed, untreated depression can be the gateway to suicide. Of the pastors surveyed, 70% say they don’t have a close friend. Close friends are typically the individuals that we confide in to share our pain, disappointments, hope and dreams. It’s close friends that encourage us to get help when we need it.
Clergywomen in particular have so many responsibilities. Alongside the call of ministry, we are spouses, parents, caregivers, confidantes, board members, activists, writers, speakers, employees, business owners, volunteers, and the list goes on. All of these responsibilities have to do with us helping or extending ourselves to others. Where are we on the list? Are you we pouring out of the empty vessels?
As an unsolicited public service announcement we clergy have the RevGalBlogPals community. I’m certain this eclectic community of clergywomen is representative of all walks of life that would help each other in any way possible. Make today a more personal day of observance. Let’s call it “Unmasked Day”. The day we take off the masks and deal with our pain, be it depression, burnout, lack of close friendships, etc. There is no need for us to continue to serve a public passion masking private pain.
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