First, I can’t get to sleep, God. Next, I’m sleeping too long. Then, I’m waking up in the dead of night more times than I can count. I can’t decide whether things are worth worrying about or not. It’s all slipping so far out of control here that I simply can’t seem to leave it in your hands. I don’t know what you are doing about any of it. And I don’t know who is on track here with what you are doing. Tell me, has it always been this bad and I just cruised obliviously along in my personal privilege bubble inside my first world bubble? Are we getting any closer to anything that matters to you, God? Are we close, but not quite?
I sense deconstruction. It’s scary and it’s hopeful, God. But how do we build without building out of the same privilege? This week two senior white men whose books I loved in seminary had a conversation railing against pastoral care and belittling clergy who falter under the load of it, as if prophetic ministries of justice do not include coming alongside the primary or secondary traumas of racism, misogyny, homophobia (and all the other incestuous cousins of patriarchy) or knowing them in your own life. As if holding space for someone waiting 18 months to see a psychiatrist because they don’t have benefits for it isn’t all that and more. I wanted to vomit (not just because their huge blind spot is where I live my life and vocation) because setting aside their voices made me feel lonelier in this. So I cried instead of puking. Will I do that one day to my ministry peers, too? Have I already done it? If not, deconstruct me before I do, God.
How can I leave this multi-layered mess in your hands when night falls and my body needs to rest? How can I know you are not a God who preserves one generation’s privilege at the expense of another’s truth? For I must be able to love you with all my heart and all my mind and all my soul and all my strength or it’s over between us by your own terms. The hardest part of deconstruction is deconstructing “you” and finding You.
But in that there is relief. Hope. Even Love, new every morning. As if You have always been more than I knew already. More than those who meant a lot in seminary know. More than anyone knows. Thank You for being You.
Diane Strickland is in her 33rd year as an ordained minister now serving in The United Church of Canada as retired clergy. She is a Certified Community and Workplace Traumatologist, Compassion Fatigue Specialist-Therapist, Critical Incident Responder, author and creator of Trauma Informed Resources.
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