Sunday, July 1, 2007

Post-Quarter Crash Mode

(Originally posted June, 2007).

Some of my seminary buddies and I talk about the slump we feel when the quarter is over -- after ten weeks of rushrushrush, writewritewrite, processprocessprocess (if you can), thinkthinkthink, there is this quite discernible collapse for several days after the quarter is done. Part of it, I think, is just physical exhaustion. But it's also intellectual and emotional exhaustion. Not one. more. drop. of thought can be squeezed out of my little brain.

And so we tend to sort of fall into a heap. I, at least, tend to huddle on the couch for a few days watching baseball and bad sitcoms until I snap out of it. The first couple of times this happened, it scared me (and my cielo) a little, because my mood and intertia are eerily like depression. But then I started asking friends, "Does something like this happen to you?" And indeed, I was not alone.

So, I feel heap-like today. But, can't quite huddle up on the couch to ride it out. Responsibilities call, right? So here I am at the church, getting ready to work on the bulletin and start sermon prep. But it's nice to know that when I go home, there is NOTHING I HAVE TO DO.

OK, I need to do a little house-cleaning, but I don't have to study or write or exert in any way the tired, squishy matter in my skull. I can go for a guilt-free walk with my cielo, watch the novela, putter about, read novels. Nice. Ahh. Yeah, I have a sermon to write, but that's ALL I have to write!

On another note -- HappyChurch is still HappyChurch. Had a great Celtic-themed liturgy yesterday, with two of my profs. also officiating (one to preach for me, whew!) to celebrate Trinity Sunday, which was well-received. I've been talking with the church moderators about the uncontent little old lady and I have to say, I am very impressed with their non-anxious approach to leadership. They did a little "field research" and it turns out the one lady is not the only one who is questioning the changes (they do seem to all be of that generation, though). But rather than try to demonize them, the moderators said, "Huh. This is *our* (as in, the church leaders') fault. We didn't do our homework before jumping into these changes. What a great opportunity for everybody to be educated." They get that I am really just a convenient target, and they don't want me to change.

I mean, you could have tipped me over with a fingerpoke. Does this really happen? Healthy church conflict management?

So, the plan is to remind folks who might express "concern" that the church is simply trying to live out its (very incredible, very inclusive) mission statement, that if there are concerns to please talk to the church leaders. And I'm going to develop a course on immigration for the fall that will address some of the questions. Because, the thing is, everybody here, not just the anxious little old ladies, need to know more about what is going on -- the economic and political realities, etc. -- and so the whole church will get educated. That was the moderators' idea, not just mine.

I have old, deep wounds about church conflict. My dad served two churches, and they both chewed him up and spit him out -- the second church in a particularly nasty manner. Being a preacher's kid in those contexts is so, so hard. Who to trust? Who to believe? Why is this person being so nice to my face when I know they're screwing over my dad in session meetings? Ugh.

So my first response if I get even a whiff of church conflict is to go into paranoid mode. This is it, here we go, it's gonna be bad, I'm gonna get hurt...A few years ago I realized how deep those wounds are and how truly unhelpful those reactions are -- constantly wary, constantly suspicious, and that is no way to be a loving, non-anxious leader. But still, it was hard to trust that there was another alternative.

And, it is still hard to trust. I want to believe that my sense that this is a healthy church is true. That the church leadership not only has *my* back, but -- more importantly -- has the church's back as well (because this is not really about me at all, of course).

And I know that I am a different person, now, too, than even a few years ago. I'm the one at school trying to model and advocate for non-anxious and loving leadership (among student leaders and trying to hold admin. and faculty accountable, too). There's been a shift in me.

That paranoid mode is still there. And maybe that's good, to an extent, in the sense that it keeps me from being too naive, keeps my eyes open. But the question is, can I override my paranoia with trust? Is this an opportunity to heal old, deep wounds?

Pray with me that it may be so.

1 comment:

  1. (original post comments)
    Tess Says:
    My first instinct on church conflict (actually any kind of conflict) is to go into calm everybody down mode. Which I’m having to learn is not necessarily the best thing because it means either a) me swallowing what I really think and/or b) others not getting a chance to properly express and own their views and feelings.

    I’m really pleased for you that your church moderators are being so gorgeously sensible and constructive about the whole thing.

    Have a great putter about when you get home.

    Towanda Says:
    Thanks, Tess, for your comments. I am indeed about to putter about (first, there was some huddle on the couch time…).

    Iris Says:
    I remember the end of the quarter slump very well. I’m convinced that the professors cram a semester’s worth of material into 10 weeks!

    One quarter, though, I didn’t get the chance to have the slump. I kid you not, the last week of the 1st quarter of my 3rd year (got that?),I put the finishing touches on all the last papers that were due and then went into labor. At least my son was courteous enough to let me finish my papers!

    Towanda Says:
    I don’t really blame the profs, who consistently complain of not having enough time to really dig in to their subjects. I think (in fact I’m sure) they’re just as exhausted as the rest of us. And I think they know we get “selective” in our studying.

    But, ok, WOW, your end-of-quarter story trumps us all!! ;-)

    Wendy Says:
    I feel your calm and maturity around conflict growing every day. I tell people in Portland who ask about you that you completely in the right place fulfilling your purpose with great gifts of Grace.


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