Today I started a second job. I am a General Support Worker at a nursing home. In simple terms I am going to be doing laundry and cleaning duties.
I started this blog as a way to try and work my way through my thoughts on a journey with depression and bi-polar. I also wanted to try and explore a theology of hope as well as bouncing around some thoughts and reflections on theology and philosophy, two of my interests.
Lately I haven't felt like writing anything. I lost motivation. I couldn't see the point and didn't know who was reading this anyhow. Today I have had cause to reflect on where I am and how I got here and what it means for me as a man and a Christian.
The day started with orientation. There were 6 nurses, 1 new admin person and 2 support workers. The previous 2 weeks had been interesting for me because the person who has overall management oversight of this nursing home and one other had phoned me firstly to offer me the position. During the conversation that ensued he asked if I had considered chaplaincy because, in the process of speaking to my referees he had picked up my giftedness for chaplaincy work. This was a very encouraging thing to hear as I have felt a bit low at times in my new employment circumstances of gardening and cleaning. There are not currently any chaplaincy opportunties but I am hopeful that this is a positive move towards caring ministry.
Today after enduring a dry and dull orientation morning and having been made to feel "stupid" by the admin manager I was asked to work in the laundry and "learn" one aspect of my new role. I spent the time from 11am to 2pm folding the night clothes and underwear of old people and putting them into the appropriate drawers. The lady who I worked with today told me that she has been in this role for 18 years. She was a very kind and helpful person.
As I stood there folding clothes I experienced a sense of feeling demeaned and low. I may have been embarassed. I am friend's with the chaplain at the nursing home and he was surprised to see me in this role but also asked if I had considered chaplaincy as a future option. God seems to be moving me in that direction but when and how is the question?
But back to the laundry. As I stood there bored and somewhat depressed I considered my position. In 2003 I completed a degree in ministry at the Baptist Theological College of NSW. I completed it with ease and was ordained in 2004. I worked as an associate pastor from 2003-early 2005 before chronic depression forced me to move out of this role. 2005 was an awful year as I tried to work through depression, overcome sexual addictions and attempt to hold my family together as I seemed to head further into depression.
Early 2006 saw myself and my family move to Newcastle, my wife's home town, to be near her family, as much for her support and health as anything else. Then my psychiatrist diagnosed me with Bi-Polar II after much discussion. I went onto a second medication which has allowed me to rediscover myself, my potential and my hope.
I am not sure how intelligent I am and I know that it is a theme that is bugging me and for which I need some answers. I was physically and sexually abused at various times throughout my childhood as well as ongoing emotional and verbal abuse. My self-esteem has worked its way through varying depths.
But...here I am with a wonderful wife, 3 fantastic children and a positive faith and love for God. I thought I was going to be a "successful" pastor and it seems that that dream/idea may have been removed from me. I thought that a graduate degree was going to be incredibly tough and I had no self-belief but I sailed through it and am now considering my options for post-graduate study next year and dreaming of a thesis should I be given the opportunity to continue my journey into doctoral studies...so I have a lot to be thankful for.
But back, again, to the laundry. I do not mean to be judgmental but I will speak honestly as a blog permits me. As I sat through the orientation and mentally corrected spelling and grammar in the notes and listened to run-of-the-mill talks from people who knew there self-importance I felt like standing up and shouting "Do you know who I am? Do you know my mind?"
Was this okay? Am I right to be frustated and if not right can I properly hold this frustration? As I folded and spoke to Debbie I realised that she was content and also that she had a life story and was loved by God. I realised that God has given me an opportunity to be made low; to wear the clothes of the "working class" and so to be perceived by the "management" and by "passers by" in the case of my gardening attire. I have an opportunity to love those I work with with the love of Christ. I do not know how long I will be in these roles and I am not a hero and want the time to be as short as possible but tonight I lay in the bath and sincerely thanked God for this new job.
I am tired; very tired but I know that my redeemer lives. If you read this can you email me or post a comment. I want to admit that I need to be encouraged at this time that people are reading this and any advice or thoughts will be warmly received. Bless you all.