sabbatical_headerDinner 2 nights ago.

Her: Have you thought about my vacation idea?

Me: You mean the one where I go to work only on Sundays and perhaps one extra day to actually write a sermon?

Her: Yeah, like a half-sabbatical.

Me: (sigh) Honey, I can’t go in front of the board and ask them to give me something that none of them could ever even dream of at their jobs.

Her: But you need this, I need this.  You are burnt out, over stressed, your anxiety is through the roof, and your depression is really bad.  When are you going to take care of yourself?

Me: Yeah but…

Her: Have you gone to the doctor yet to talk about your depression?

Me: Ummm, well…

Her: You keep putting this off, meanwhile you’re getting worse.

Me: So how much money do we have.  Do we even have enough money to pay the doctor?

Her: You get paid Friday.  Quit making excuses.

Me: You know I want to go, I’ve already talked to doc about this once.  We just haven’t had any money.

Her: This is why you need a sabbatical.  You can’t keep working this hard and not taking care of yourself.

Me: How am I supposed to go ask for a sabbatical when I’m just going to quit anyways?  How does that look?  That’s exactly what your old pastor did.  Ask for a sabbatical, take 3 months off, then quit.  We’ve known multiple pastors to do the same thing.  It’s just wrong.

Her: But if you don’t take care of…

Me: A sabbatical doesn’t address my main problem with working at the church.  This isn’t a stress issue.

Obvious allusion to my atheism.

Her: Why don’t you take your friends seriously. We all think this is symptom of burn out.  Don’t you trust us?  We know you.

Me: (attempting to restrain anger) You know what? I’ve had 1 conversation with Michael, 2 conversation with old roomie, and ZERO conversations with Reese.  None of that qualifies anybody to tell me how I think, how I feel, or what I believe.





Her:…what about me? Don’t I know you well?

Me: (chuckles, then instantly regret chuckling) You’re biased.  You’re biased. What I believe and the decisions I make because of what I believe are going to directly effect you.  Sometimes negatively. You’re not in a position to be objective about this.

Tears instantly well up in her eyes but she’s also a bit pissed.  I can tell I’ve hurt her by the insinuation that she doesn’t “know” me well enough to accurately understand what I’m thinking.

I mutter something about needing to do something and I go and lock myself in my bathroom.  I check my WordPress comments and twitter interactions.

She comes upstairs after 10 mins.

Her: (knock, knock, knock)

Me: Yeah

Her: When you’re finished do you want to sit on the couch with me and try that new beer [22oz] my friends brought us?

Me: Ok, that sounds nice.

We end the night drinking fine local beer and laughing our asses off at Impractical Jokers.Tv-impractical-jokers01


11 thoughts on “Sabbatacation

  1. I used to have to sign a Statement of Faith every year (for reasons that aren’t relevant). And I had minor issues with it… every year. A few small things. But it was enough that I always felt like I had to justify to myself my reasons for signing something I never fully agreed with. After I realized I didn’t/couldn’t believe anymore, I had to tell them I wouldn’t sign it and why.

    I still think it’s funny that becoming an atheist made me more honest with them. Your refusal to take a sabbatical on the “eve” of quitting seems to be more honest and to show more integrity than those other pastors you mention who took sabbaticals and then quit.

    Regardless, you DO need to find a way to take care of yourself in the near term.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This may or may not be the right thing to say right now but this idea that others know you and blame burnout for your depression (and I don’t know enough about you in that regard) reminds me of people blaming my going through menopause for my deconversion. In looking back I laugh at it now and think maybe it was, and thank menopause for it!

    It sure can be a roller-coaster. Ups and downs for all of you.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Having absolutely no knowledge of how a church career or a sabbatical would work, from a practical standpoint I would say if you’ve got a way to cut back on your workload while you get your affairs organized, take it. Even if this was just a burn out (I don’t think it is because from your writing, you don’t think it is), the stress and depression effects would be the same. No matter what your job is, you can’t perform effectively at it if you aren’t in the frame of mind to give 100%, regardless of the cause. You do have to look after yourself, because that’s the only way to make sure you’re in tip top shape to do a tip top job.

    If it’s the fact that you’ll be leaving that bothers you most, take a look at this article from one of the influencers I have on LinkedIn: . The career fields of course are going to be very different, but the idea behind it is the same. You’re no longer able to get what you need from your job, and thus your job isn’t going to be able to get the best performance out of you. Regardless of that though, you still have to deal with your finances to make sure your family is taken care of, so you stick it out in that regard. Rather than continuing to avoid the issue and compound on your stress, negotiate an exit strategy to deal with it. Be upfront with what your plans are, make sure you’ve got a solid window that is workable for everyone involved, and include a cut back in your work load now so that you can deal with your immediate health concerns.

    Again, total outside perspective with no idea of the specifics of your situation, but something I thought might be helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I second what Pariah said. Your illustration of your wife’s humor, compassion and love fills me with joy. She is your world and I’m glad you have such an amazing partner.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Why don’t you take your friends seriously. We all think this is symptom of burn out. Don’t you trust us? We know you.

    Probably best that you temper your response as you did, but yeah, I’m pretty sure that would’ve pissed me off too, if I were in your shoes.

    Of course, I’m sure it’s tough for her, too. She didn’t go through the (thought) process with you, and in general, I don’t think Christians even know deconversion is a thing… and for many, I think, at least to an extent, truly understanding the reasoning would compel one to go through it themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

    • and for many, I think, at least to an extent, truly understanding the reasoning would compel one to go through it themselves.

      And I’m definitely not interested in having her go through what I went through. At least not so abruptly.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey, I had depression as well. Realizing that faith had almost zero effect on helping me get better and that I needed real professional help was a kick in the no faith direction for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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