About Five years ago, we as a family were travelling on one of our long car journeys, if it involved Perth or Devon in the route then it would be at least 6 hours or more. It must have been at least 2-3 hours into the journey, and as the driver usually in the car, you kind of get to know the routine with kids in the back of the car, they know and can recognise the Service station signs, especially the ones with Fast food outlet symbols on them, and so these are times to keep the kids distracted and not to be thinking about stopping, or the journey could be endless and tiring. However, I had forgotten about the fact that now my daughter could read. So if she wasnt distracted by her DVD player or nintendo DS, and she was beginning to sound a bit fidgety, possibly hungry and winey from the back of the car. And not only could she read the signs of the Service Station but it was the blue version of the ones above, and she then exclaimed innocently, spontaneously and with a sharp spike into the heart of a driving parent : “I’m Tired, I need a break, I could Kill!”
Tiredness could Kill take a break! -Might not be the best way of heeding a warning to slow down. But, if i were to be honest, if tiredness is symptom of trying to do too much, or trying to cope with too much, or hold onto the emotions too much, then i can understand being tired. I wont put it down to ‘being thursday’ and near the end of the week.
I was about to write a piece a few weeks ago as it dawned on me that aside from 4 years, I had been involved in some form of responsibility in Christian Ministry for the last 20 years, either in paid, part time, student or voluntary capacity depending on the circumstance. Thats 16 years of planning to engage and meet with young people in groups, or on the streets, of training volunteers, of fundraising, of networking, of organisational politics, of funding uncertainty, of creating strategies- and also the ongoing discipline of continual learning, reading, reflecting, and thinking. But for someone still under 40, 18 years feels a large percentage of that, and there’s been times in that time when I’ve been guided well, spiritually directed, and other times less so. But that’s also quite a few years of having public and personal faith. I’m not unique in this, public and personal faith occurs in many walks of life.
A few weeks ago I published a list of 40 things to help youth workers with self care during Lent- but what about me, have I done it? How many have I actually done to help myself… probably not that many. Actually looking at this list again http://wp.me/p2Az40-Ol – it is probably about 10, mostly because I have had to maintain reading, walking the dog, taking days off on saturdays, and attempts to try and eat a bit healthier.. But even with self care – taking on too much responsibilities, being involved in lots of interesting projects around the north east, like Equip, and FYT as well as the organisational and funding challenges of DYFC are going to take their toll. But its always easier to give advice that take it. But similarly i am going to be kind to myself and recognise that things are not easy or normal.
And thats before other aspects of life that can be even more emotionally tiring, like family illness, or bereavements.
What’s really difficult in writing this, is being a leader, even a male leader and feeling like its actually difficult to admit feeling tired, even weary in ‘Christian work’ – sometimes I feel like I have had enough, and i have no pretentions of being superman either, i like to contribute, to support, to connect, to help – not solve or save. Doing it all isnt a heroic stance, more a trying to help things happen.
Though what I think deep down what i have had enough of is trying to keep things going that arent going to, of trying to pioneer in the wrong context with limited support, of keeping something going that is on a shoestring. And so, what i have done to compensate is fill my time with things of life, things that grow, things where people are up for taking risks and working collaboratively with young people. Like a moth be attracted to the places of light, and be attracted to the dark places where even small amounts of light might make a difference.
In between a couple of meetings this week, during two good days of planning and writing essays, I took a detour off the main road and stopped at Hendon Beach near Sunderland, and even just for 15 mins stopped, and looked and listened to the almost complete quiet of still waters. As the pictures indicate, its not the prettiest, bluest water, but it was still a moment to gather and recharge.