Lord, you have my heart, and I will search for yours.
Where do you bring the things that cannot be
said out loud? To whom do you turn when your heart is
brimming with secret joy, and there is no one, no one, that will ever
understand? Who do you talk to, about those life-changing
events that can’t be allowed to change your life, when you live in a city where
everyone knows everyone, and everyone really knows the pastor?
Yeah, that can be read both as an exclamation
of frustration, and as the answer to those questions above. Those meanings are
In seminary, they tell you many things.
They say that you will be tempted.
They say it is normal to doubt, both yourself
And they stress how important it is, because
of temptation and doubt, to talk to a spiritual director or a confessor or
someone like that.
All this is true. And all this is,
unfortunately, stupidly, irresponsibly forgotten when all is fine. At least it
was by me.
I am not all people. I am not even just like
every other young clergy woman. But I am sure there are others like me out
Life just goes on. Doing my thing, doing it
well even. Talking to church members who are having problems in their
marriages, officiating at funeral services, copying mounds of papers, meeting
with co-workers…and it is all good. But somehow there is no room in all of
this for thinking about the doubts and the temptations, and no time, or so I
justified it to myself, to find a good spiritual director.
So when it hit me, it hit me hard.
Because temptation does not let itself be
dealt with like the other things. It will not allow me to procrastinate. No
chance to think ”I will deal with that on Monday”. It just hits. And I was
Now, I know you are worried. Don’t be. It all
turned out good. Different than I thought, but good. I had the great fortune of
having good, close (clergy) friends, who were there for me, provided me with
sound advice, made disapproving and encouraging sounds, prayed for, and with
me… They were my confessors, my spiritual directors, and without them I do
not know where I would be.
But I tell you – heed the seminary advice. Get
your go-to-guy or gal. Dealing with temptation and doubt actually makes you a
better pastor or priest, providing you do it right of course (whatever that
means). Not only does it make you more aware, it gives you a necessary sense of
humility (or at least it gave me that, and I needed it). Do not seek it, but
when it comes, you will be helped by having gotten the help you need before you
even needed it.
And always count on God. The solution to your
problem might not be what you expected, but you didn’t enter the God-path
looking for the familiar, did you?