Hiding

How long has it been since I had any time to write? Truthfully, I don’t even have time now.

I’ve never been through so much hell before, especially hell of my own making. I am reminded of my last semester at my university. I declared a second major four months before graduation and vainly assumed that I would have plenty of time to write a senior thesis. Now, I did end up completing a thesis, but it was close–I turned in the thesis the morning of the day that grades were due, which was two days before graduation. I passed the thesis, but not by much, and graduated on time. But during those four months, I was a wreck. I didn’t finish all of my work for my other classes, but still did enough to pass them all. I was sick much more often than my usual twice-a-year. And the hell I put myself through my have been a contributing factor in the breakup of my college relationship.

I would have thought that that experience  taught me a few things, but while I am an excellent academic learner, it’s the life lessons I don’t always get. Last Fall, in an attempt to 1) meet degree requirements, 2) earn a concentration, 3) take classes I wanted to take, and 4) work as a Teaching Assistant, I let my pride get in way and took on way too many things, assuming that I would be fine, like I “always ” am.

Six classes, one TA’d class, and one approval process later, I fell on my face–hard. There was no way I could handle six classes, which is what all of my colleagues and my academic advisers told me to begin with. Add to that  the responsibility of being a TA and the incredibly stressful process that is Approval in the ELCA, and I became overwhelmed in about a month’s time.

But am I a quitter? Do I look at overwhelming odds and slink away in fear? No! Not me, I refuse to believe that I can’t handle something.

Well, we see how that turned out.

I hate quitting. When I quit baseball, and Dad made me call my coach to tell him I wouldn’t be playing that year, I felt like I was going to throw up. When I told Mom that I was no longer going to major in Music Education, I had the same feeling. I hate letting people down. I hate failing.

There’s failing, and then there’s being a failure, and this time, I was the latter. I’ve never been a failure before. It’s an interesting feeling. I don’t like it.

In some ways, it has made me a quitter. I gave up on getting my concentration, which wasn’t required anyway, and dropped the 3-credit class I would have taken just for it. I resigned as a Teaching Assistant, which was particularly painful given that I really enjoyed working with the professor. And, because of scheduling shifts, I’ve had to give up playing my tuba regularly every week with the Capital Thunder under my friend and mentor Tony.

On the other hand, I’m not as much of a quitter as I’d like to think. I am in a much better position this semester, dealing with only four classes (one of which doesn’t start until the second half of the semester). I will be able to take much better care of myself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m going to be a part of a “Family of Origin” group looking at the dynamics of our families in our lives. And, I’ll finally be engaging in therapy (which every single clergy person absolutely should do (and many, many do) for their own sanity–and a good many lay people, too).

It is hard to think about where God will take me after this semester. But hopefully, all of this will make me better prepared for what lies ahead.

 

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Author: Pastor Ken

Ken Ranos serves as the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Three Lakes, WI, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

4 thoughts on “Hiding”

  1. Don’t forget about the power of prayer in all this, as you, your family and friends are praying for you to complete your education on time and move on with your life. You will emerge from this a fine Pastor, son. Take your bumps and move forward with lessons learned. 🙂

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    1. Batman’s way cooler, anyway. Except for the whole dead parents thing. That wouldn’t be fun.

      I’m really terrible at acknowledging my limits. I like to believe I don’t have any. There’s a personality type indicator called the Enneagram, and on the Enneagram, I am a “6”, which means that I am a Loyalist, someone who always puts another person first, is very task-completion oriented, and who has a -really- hard time saying no when I am asked to do something, because my self-image comes from being reliable and able to handle anything people need. So being able to pull back and say, “No, I really can’t do this” is really tough.

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