Three years ago today, my partner and I moved our household and three cats from San Diego to the Bay Area so I could attend Starr King School for the Ministry. I have laughingly said many times that I’m glad I didn’t fully comprehend everything this career change would require, or I’m not sure I would have had the courage to go for it.
At this point, I have completed my ministerial internship, completed 14 weeks of chaplain training at a hospital, and earned my Master of Divinity degree. I have been reading and preparing for my appointment with the Ministerial Fellowship Committee for nine months. This preparation includes a weekly telephone meeting with my study group. And I’m not done yet: I still have two months to go, and 16 documents left to read.
Not tired like I want to give up, but tired like life can be tiring. Tired like giving myself one week’s vacation isn’t going to do the trick. I know; I tried it last week. My partner and I took the week off and stayed at a nearby hotel. I didn’t read anything from the required reading list. We watched movies and ate out and went for walks.
It was wonderful. It was restful. I had expected to return home rejuvenated, ready to hit the books for just a few more weeks, to push myself one more time. But back here at home, I find myself unable to push. I don’t want to sit and read all day. I don’t want to force myself to do things.
And no wonder. I don’t believe that pushing ourselves to work is a good way to live. The motivating note on the wall in my study reads, “What calls to me right now?” not “Get to work!” I have already spent years of my life burning the candle at both ends. I have no desire to repeat the mistakes of my past.
But for someone as focused and goal-oriented as I can be, it’s not easy to give myself a break. The spiritual task I’ve been given time and time again by those I rely on for guidance and advice is to invite more play into my life. To relax. To have fun. This feels like a particular challenge right now, with just two months to go before the interview.
If I were ministering to me, I would tell me to lighten up. That ministerial formation is much more than completing a reading list. That we must strive to live our lives in balance, with time for rest and fun and family and friends.
Easier said than done, I know. But such is the way of that worth having.