When I woke up this morning I knew it wasn't any better.
My lady wife has been asking me for days if something was wrong and I kept telling her no, I was fine. I knew that wasn't true but I couldn't put my finger on what the problem was either. So there was no good answer.
I felt sad. I felt tired. Mentally, physically and especially spiritually. I felt defeated.
Yes, there at last was the word I'd searched for.
Defeated in my life. Defeated in my ministry. Defeated in my marriage (through my failings no one else's). Defeated in my career.
I work hard. I do good work. But it just wasn't enough.
I wasn't living anything close to the dreams I'd had. I wasn't providing what I wanted to provide for my family. I wasn't producing what I thought I should be able to produce in my work and ministry.
Defeated. Not incompetent just not competent enough. Not untalented just not talented enough. Not unintelligent just not intelligent enough.
I stopped by my rector's office to follow up on some work and we chatted. I admitted that I was deeply into a bout of the (pardon the language) "I just don't give a shit anymores". Nice that I can say that to my rector. No other words would quite carry the emotional content as well. I just didn't give a shit anymore.
Why bother? I've been the guy who says "Good enough, isn't". I've been the guy who said "The company has given us all the tools we need. If we can't perform under these circumstances they ought to fire us". I've been that idealistic, eyes shining as they gaze at the glorious future idiot. And what did it get me? Fired from my last job because I wouldn't play those stupid office politics and focused on doing my job.
And my rector said "Can I buy you lunch?"
So we went to lunch. And he never told me that I was wrong. In fact he told me that I had a right to feel that way. Then he told me that I wasn't seeing the whole picture.
We talked about a bunch of stuff and I remembered that I've done a lot of things of which I'm justifiably (I think) proud. I've made tough decisions and put myself second to care for my family. There's not one of those decisions, looking back, that I regret. They were right. Then and now.
There are plenty of folks who would look at my life and see a steady stream of success. I've had jobs where I've made an honest to God difference in people's lives. And yes people like me, they really, really like me. Some of them even respect me and pay attention to what I say.
I've made sacrifices. I've put my career on hold several times to make sure my family was OK. My life isn't perfect but it's still pretty darn good. The bad parts can still be worked on even at my "advanced age" (He really said that to me. Terrible thing to have a rector younger than yourself).
An hour, two chicken fajitas and some refried beans later and I no longer felt defeated. It's at least the second time my rector has gotten me turned around when things seemed pretty dark. There are still things to work on but at least it's not quite so dark in my heart any more
He's pretty sharp, my rector.
That's him right here, Fr. Eric Williams.
You should all be as lucky as I am.