Stomach Twisting Stress

I got contacted by TBWSNBN this morning:

Her: Have you heard from Kevin yet?  He usually gets back to me in about a day.  Maybe you should call him.

OH MY GOD, SHUT UP AND GO AWAY!!!

Me: I never call him.  We talk exclusively via email or in person.  We don’t do phone calls.

So I send a reminder email to Kevin.  And by reminder email, I mean I email him for the first time asking for a visit.  He instantly gets back to me.

Kevin: How about we meet tomorrow, 10am, my office?

Me: Sounds good.

Yeah, I’m not looking forward to this.  I know he’s had some major and serious doubt problems, and he’s even preached on this. But still I’m a bit nervous to talk to him about the… “problems”… I’ve been having.

I send a message to TBWSNBN:

Me: Kevin and I are meeting tomorrow morning at 10am in his office. You are not invited to this.  When I meet with him I will gladly tell him that you also want to meet with him.  How should I tell him to contact you?

Her: Sounds great! So glad! I’m sure being a pastor can be a lonely place. Kevin has my contact info. I will be praying for the two of you … I have been praying John. You and your wife are in my thoughts ❤

PUKE!!!

Even as a Christian, I ALWAYS hated fake Christian cheeriness.  And that little heart at the end of her message….I wanted to punch my phone.

(((Side note:  Look ma, no swear words!)))

But the stress of this meeting coming up and what Kevin might ask me to do is twisting my stomach into knots.  Every time I talk about my “problem” for the first time, my stomach gets filled with bats (like butterflies but uglier and bigger).

In other news:

I sent a reminder email to the owner of the brewery.  I really need him to get back to me, like pronto.  He was on vacation last week and said he’d get back to me soon.  Well, now is soon bro!  Let me make some beer from you.

I haven’t heard a peep from any of the other jobs.  Zero call backs.  Zero emails.

So no jobs… my stomach turns a bit more.

In other news:

I should be meeting with a documentary film crew THIS SATURDAY.  They’re looking to highlight a pastor in transition out of ministry due to loss of faith.  They haven’t talked to any spouses yet in my situation, I’m hoping to convince my wife to talk about it.  I haven’t been able to yet.  She needs to tell her story, both for herself and for other spouses in her situation that need guidence.

I know a lot of people have suggested I write a book about my journey, but I think there is enough of these books out there, and I don’t think I’ll do a better job than Drew Bekius who is finishing up his book.  That is a book I’m buying and you should too.  I’ve heard pieces of his story, and it is soooo interesting.

However, I would like my wife to write a book. Something that TCP can hand out to clergy spouses and say, “here, this is how one couple dealt with this and survived.”  The wife is still too much in pain to really want to think that far ahead.  But do you guys remember TWWSBNAFFS (Friendly Facebook Stalker)?  She’s a copy editor, she offered to edit a book I write for free!  Maybe I can co-write this book with my wife.

In other news:

Our church has a board meeting next Tuesday, a week from today.  That could be the day I give my notice.  The constitution of the church requires a minimum of 30 days notice.  Depending on how tomorrow’s meeting with Kevin goes, I could be in my last seven days as a pastor.

Stomach, ouch, twist.

There’s the saying “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life”

I have loved being a pastor.  It hasn’t felt like work. It has been an awesome job.  I will miss it, immensely.

And to change the subject:

I wanted to listen to this song to make me feel better.  Then listening to the lyrics I was like, “He is he singing about leaving God behind?” Cuz it sure sounds like.

This is Bixby Canyon Bridge by Death Cab.

I descended a dusty gravel ridge
Beneath the Bixby Canyon Bridge
Until I eventually arrived
At the place where your soul had died

Barefoot in the shallow creek
I grabbed some stones from underneath
And waited for you to speak to me

In the silence it became so very clear
That you had long ago disappeared
I cursed myself for being surprised
That this didn’t play like it did in my mind

All the way from San Francisco
As I chased the end of your road
‘Cause I’ve still got miles to go

And I want to know my fate
If I keep up this way

And it’s hard to want to stay awake
When everyone you meet, they all seem to be asleep
And you wonder if you’re missing a dream

You can’t see a dream
You can’t see a dream
You just can’t see a dream

A dream [x12]

And then it started getting dark
I trudged back to where the car was parked
No closer to any kind of truth
As I must assume was the case with you

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27 thoughts on “Stomach Twisting Stress

  1. I’m curious as to what sort of salary you need to be on. I know I’m prying pretty hard there, but there’s a certain amount of pay and cushiness involved with the pastors life that makes it all the more difficult to leave – the corporate world is, well…corporate and usually pretty shitty unless your skills are demonstrably necessary and unique to the corporation – it may be hard to find something that competes.

    The IT field is a beautiful thing in that you can self certify in so many different areas if you are somewhat savvy with computers and networking in order to become an expert in the field fairly quickly. Interested in coding? pick up a book. Interested in repair? pick up a book. Networking? same thing. Degrees are largely ubiquitous to skills in this field and I bet you’d do well – plus you have the interpersonal skills many in the field lack. (that sounds blatantly generalizing, I know, but my customers complain about it even today when referring to others that doing interact with them well.)

    Just a thought, then again – I can’t armchair quarterback this thing…but you wouldn’t be the first ex-pastor to move into IT.

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  2. I think getting your wife’s story out there is a great idea. I believe my husband’s story is more interesting than mine, but he is not a writer. I recently posted an interview with him. I feel like he is about a decade behind me in losing faith, and I was really surprised that he had prayed recently. I had the stronger faith between the two of us, and yet because of his background he has found it more difficult to let go. Our interview was the first time he admitted he might not believe in God.

    The interview was very eye-opening for both of us. I didn’t post the last hour of it because we ended up talking about our relationship and how we phased religion out of our lives as a couple, and it was no longer an interview. I may post it someday. But I’m wondering if your wife would be willing to let you interview her? She may be surprised to hear how interesting her thoughts on the subject really are and find some inspiration.

    Good luck with everything, I look forward to hearing how these next days unfold for you. I can’t wait until you can get TBWSNBN out of your business for good!

    Liked by 1 person

      • In regards to your own story, you would probably get more out of the last hour- the part I didn’t post 🙂 When I lost faith my husband still believed completely. It’s interesting that when we first met, if he had lost faith I would have left him. And then there came a time in our marriage when one of us could lose faith and it no longer meant we had to break up. It was fascinating to really discuss how we got there. Because staying together during a faith crisis means a lot about where you really are with God. Having met as missionaries, we started out very firm in our faith. Now we are here. We had never really talked about it before. The interview made it easy.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. I so wish I could give you some comfort. The tunnel is dark right now, and full of curves, so you can’t see the light at the end. In my experience, though, it tends to always be there.

    I’ve watched a lot of people lose jobs, often suddenly, and need to find others here in Silicon Valley. it’s a pretty brutal place to work, because layoff-induced job changes are very common. I’ve gone through it a few times myself. At first there are no bites. And then finally an interview, but you walk away knowing you aren’t a good match. Or they like you but the place is going to be hell to work at. And it goes cold again, and you wait, and wait, and make phone calls, and send resumes, and begin to wonder if you’ll ever work again… and five calls for interviews come in within a week. And one of them (if you’re REALLY lucky, two of them) make offers, and you have a job.

    So, hang in there.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Again, I hate to sound like a broken record and I hate to make assumptions as to your state of mind or your intentions, but your #1 priority right now is to protect your family.
    Anyone that would trade 1 to 3 months worth of “spiritual integrity” for an equal (but likely longer) period of financial struggle/ruin is either a very rich person or someone without a heart.

    Remember, you are allowed to be “in transition” so to speak. Can you be 100% sure that if you leave your church in a week you won’t regret it? Can you be 100% sure that you won’t change your mind back?

    Also, who benefits from you leaving your present job in a week? Not you or your family. Not your congregation.

    I don’t think anyone can argue with the fact that changing religion is a process that takes whatever time is necessary. Even from a Christian point of view, if every pastor with doubts quit their jobs, there would be a lot of vacancies all over the world.

    Let me ask you this: Do you believe that you can perform your job as a pastor while you are going through this process?

    From a practical standpoint it’s very likely that even if you find a job it won’t be initially as remunerative as your present one. If you add to that going without income for several months until you get a new job, you could be staring at losing everything you have worked for or, should you be lucky enough to receive help from relatives or this community you have created, at the very least you and your family will suffer some severe financial setbacks. Not to mention what being jobless does to a person’s self-worth.

    Please take the chance tomorrow to dial this whole thing back a bit. This is a decision you have to take yourself at the right time, not at the time someone else picks for you.

    Yes, you have doubts. Yes, maybe you are an atheist. But maybe not. You are the sole judge of that, not your facebook friends. Or your wife’s.

    Christians always say atheists don’t really exist, well, for once, you may be able to leverage that.

    “TBWSNBN I spoke to Kevin earlier today and I realized that it is too soon and I may be making a mistake. Truth is a love my job and if every Christian that ever doubted left the religion immediately, there wouldn’t be enough christians left to put together a game of soccer. Kevin agrees with me I should spend more time praying about this”

    How’s that? Do you think it will fly?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Our church has a board meeting next Tuesday, a week from today. That could be the day I give my notice. The constitution of the church requires a minimum of 30 days notice. Depending on how tomorrow’s meeting with Kevin goes, I could be in my last seven days as a pastor.

    I have loved being a pastor. It hasn’t felt like work. It has been an awesome job. I will miss it, immensely.

    I really feel for you. I imagine there may be times when you wish your mind never went down this road of doubt. The upheaval in your life — heck, the very way you view the world — is traumatic. But pursuit of the truth has to come first, even when it’s scary.

    Strength to you, brother!

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      • Something I noticed in your post about the board meeting:

        “The constitution of the church requires a minimum of 30 days notice”

        OK

        “Depending on how tomorrow’s meeting with Kevin goes, I could be in my last seven days as a pastor.”

        By this, do you mean you are afraid that the board may fire you immediately upon your resignation? Because that would be pretty shitty (proper use of profanity) of them. Not unusual, mind you. Lots of companies get really upset if you leave your job without giving proper notice, but then they also have a history of firing employees that do give 30 days notices on the same day out of spite.

        Then they sit around wondering why they always seem to hire irresponsible people that give them no notice when they leave.

        Is that the case at your Church? It sure is the case at many smaller companies where the owners feel invested in the lives of their employees. And by “invested” I mean they spy on them and criticize their off work activities and they are constantly telling everyone what a big happy family we all were. Not.

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      • It is possible I could be asked (they can’t legally fire me, only a vote of the congregation has that power) to not return to church. I’d be entitled to the 30 days worth of pay. If I give notice and they ask me to instead promptly leave, as long as I get paid I don’t think I’ll complain.

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  6. It breaks my heart to hear you say that you loved being a pastor knowing that the prerequisite is to believe very specific supernatural things. OK, back to basics! Try this. The reason you liked being a pastor was probably because you love people, loved helping people, loved being with people. The ability to think critically does not preclude any of that. Brewing beer is fantastic, but don’t lose your link with real people, especially if that is where your passion lies.

    Take care.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Wow, PNF, another great song (thank you for Quiet Company!!).

    “Is he singing about leaving God behind?” — a song is what it is…. Googling around, I see Gibbard was thinking about the existential crisis of Jack Kerouac, and thinking about his own life… & it could sure fit anyone’s peak moment. http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2008/04/the-meaning-of-life.html “No closer to any kind of truth”…. I’ve been thinking how this Silence is part of the biblical record too… Elijah was expecting a voice from earthquake, wind, or fire — but got “the sound of sheer silence.” Lament psalms beg for a word… but usually the consolation they find is in remembering traditional affirmations, not a fresh encounter. So I think there’s company there, too, in addition to your friends and readers.

    May the bats become butterflies. Tiny guys!!!!!!!

    Elizabeth.

    [btw, in mention of Luke fig tree, I didn’t say clearly it was god who’s interpreted to say (to snbn) “give it more time.”]

    Liked by 1 person

    • After this post, I too, went looking for the meaning of the song and found the Jack Kerouac connection. But if you think of the idea of a believer going to a sacred location in a last ditch attempt to connect with God and then being disappointed that you are surprised nothing happened…very a propo.

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      • Yes, “Bridge” captures the feeling poignantly… your writing does too. Thank you for both.

        I notice that Kevin doesn’t go to the Job denouement, where god says Job was speaking rightly… but I suspect that’s part of Kevin’s job, to push back some, along with the active listening. So happy there seems to be a good man in that position. Thanks for the writing, the songs, the works….

        peace love & all good stuff, to you and yours : )

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Not sure about the time difference, but I think you might have already had the meeting, so hope it went well. Guess we’ll all find out soon enough.

    Also, if your wife had a blog, I would certainly be reading it.

    Cheers
    Shane

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You have got me checking your blog like an addict to see how the meeting went. Thinking positive & happy thoughts for you.

    Like

  10. Reportedly, there is an ancient chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

    I think “May someone want to make a documentary of your life.” probably ranks right up there.

    Hang in there.

    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

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