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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Reflections

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.

6 comments:

Joey Cavalier said...

Hey man, this is Joe (aka Theologian Joe).

I do want to speak that encouragement to you...

It seems like you have a wonderful passion to see the Kingdom of God grow and be established here on this earth; you want to do great things for God!!! God sees that desire and calls you a "vessel of honor in the Master's service!" It doesn't matter what our vocation is, we are all called to the ministry...Child of the Wind; you are a servant of God, and your work is not in vain!!!

You have 3 beautiful kids; that makes you a father and Shepherd to them...You are able to serve them and guide them so that they too may be great children of God; and so they too may be mighty warriors for God's Kingdom!!! You have your own ministry going on inside of your home!!! :)

I will pray for God to show you that your dream of being a pastor is not "gone with the wind." Every day and in significant ways you are a pastor (Shepherd).

Blessings from Joe

It is good to hear from you again...

p.s. I got engaged last week :)

Les said...

Congratulations on the engagement and thankyou for the encouragement. You are absolutely right in what you say. God IS guiding my steps and He is faithful.

Joey said...

I bookmarked your blog and I stumbled here and read your post today. We had similar experiences but you have been through a lot. Like you I have to do demaning jobs to support my family when I was still pastoring a church. I also have three kids and we are still struggling financially but God never fail to sustain us, more so now that we are in the mission field.

I believe that our experiences really are God's way of preparing us to accomplish greater things for God. It is through these experiences that we can effectively minister to others.

I guess your post have been an encouragement to me as much as I want to encourage you.

Tons of hope,

Joey

Christopher said...

Les, I enjoy reading your blog. I admit that I do not read it daily, but when I read it, I like to catch up on what you have written since the last time I read it. For what it is worth, I have purchased The Spirit of Life because your posts on the book inspired me to read it. I haven't started the book yet, because I am going through John Stott's The Incomparable Christ.

When I get frustrated with my "position in life" I remind myself that Jesus came as a servant. As I approach my life as service, I find it makes it easier to not be frustrated at not being "higher up."

Keep up on the blog, brother. I am occasionally surprised when my blog gets a flurry of activity. This week a co-worker commented on one of my posts from a month or so back. Apparently he had just gotten around to reading it. So, you never know.

Your Brother in Christ,
Christopher

Les said...

Chris, I was a bit flat when I wrote the blog. I write mostly to get things off my chest. It is still good to get some feedback.

I am glad you are taking a look at more of Moltmann.

I am in a good place right now.

Anonymous said...

Dear Les,
Thanks for sharing your life's journey with such honesty. It is tough when life doesn't go your way, especially, in childhood, when you look for help from those closest to you eg parents, adults and even God. Where is the help when you need it most?
Now as an adult and christian, I know God is faithful and redeeming and restoring what was taken away by the enemy.
Your current situation, reminds me of how the God of the Universe, Jesus, was born in a stable and in human form. Imagine how lowly he must have felt with the bodily and mental restrictions, without any honour or recognition for his divinity. Yet, like you, he was destined for greater things that the time will reveal. No matter what, God has you in the palm of His hands, even in the sewers of life......................