17 April 2015

Time for a vacation?

Last night as I was lying on bed, overly tired from the day, I told Matthijs that "I hate everybody." He proceeded to inform me that he didn't qualify as everybody, while simultaneously warning the cat about my mood. Have I mentioned recently that Matthijs is good for me?

And, of course, I don't hate everyone. The words are simply a way of expressing both my being overwhelmed and frustrated by the challenge of human beings in relation with each other. It's also my way of saying that I need some time alone, far enough away from others to recharge. 

It feels like my ability to recharge from caring for people and interacting with people's messiness has decreased in the last while. The "I'm finding it crazy hard to motivate myself to do what I should" mood has also increased in length and frequency. A vacation is definitely a good idea to replenish my energy and desires.

I come from a culture where we learned to "suck it up" and "live with it". To some degree, saying that I need a vacation feels selfish and even a bit frivolous. Lots of people don't or can't have vacation. After all, if you farm or have your own business, vacation is often exceptionally complicated, if it's even feasible. Having a fragile economic or political situation also makes vacation pretty difficult. So when so many people don't get vacation, why/how can I need one? The short answer is that I don't need one. 

At the same time, God gives gracious gifts, and for me that includes paid vacation. It's a blessing, a way to refresh my soul so that I might come back more able and open to doing ministry. The refreshing my soul is good, as my attitude makes a huge difference in ministry (for a comparison, see this article of how a dean's way of being affects everyone). I also am learning that it matters a lot that my spiritual life is in order (i.e., I definitely shouldn't hate everybody). I am not the only one to believe that, as this article on the pastor's personal holiness points out. 

It is not so much that how I am doing spiritually encourages and challenges those I lead, it is more that I can not pastor people well if I am not constantly turning myself towards God so that I can listen well, be humble, pray for and love those God has given me. When my turning towards God focuses too much on my own frustrations and tiredness, it's hard to turn to God with and on behalf of others.

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