There was a point in my life at which I hated weddings.
I'd do anything I could to get out of going, to leave early... When I think about all the celebrating I missed. Erg.
I think the main problem was that I wasn't married myself- and I hated just about any and every reminder of that fact.
Ditto things like dealing with hard issues in people's lives, confrontation, or even other people's sickness- nothing in my life had equipped me or even exposed me to much of that at all.
So it was good to go into a vocation like ministry where I would deal with all of those on a regular basis :)
I drove home from the wedding the other day, really enjoying this role I get to play in people's lives...
In fact, I think I've always enjoyed actually doing weddings- well, except maybe that first one. The "pressure" to "enjoyment" ratio was way out of whack on that one.
Good thing it only lasted about 10 minutes.
On this last one, I think I finally crossed the 90% ratio in terms of pressure to enjoyment- now, it's almost all pure pleasure. I know what I'm doing with these things, I feel like I have something to offer... and most of all, I can relax and enjoy my front row seat.
As a pastor, I get to see things that most people don't- I regularly stand two feet from men and women as they pledge their lives and their love to one another, tears streaming down their faces. I'm standing there at one of the most significant moments of their lives, helping to create it. And I'm literally the only person in the room who can see the faces of both the bride and the groom, and all their family and friends at once. It's amazing. What once felt like a supreme pressure not to mess it up (after all, who wants to be that pastor who calls the bride by the wrong name or accidently skips the vows) has now given way to just feeling honored at being invited so close to something so intimate.
I think that particular framing is also my way forward when it comes to dealing with some of the harder stuff too- I still don't relish the hard issues, the confrontation or the hospital visits and sickness. And I can't imagine anything I'm looking forward to less than the first Evergreen funeral. But...
I know that if I fight involvement in those things internally, I will "mess it up." I'll be less present than needed, I'll look for the easy ways out. I'll do my "job" and move on- and that, frankly, is a half-assed way to approach something as sacred as entre' into the hardest parts of people's lives.
Better to lean in- to feel honored to sit with someone in their sickness, their moment of grief. To feel the weight of being trusted by God to be present at the birth of that piece of someone's character that is forged in confrontation and (hopefully) resolution. To feel privileged to have a front row seat in the marriages, the arguments, the strife as well as the forgiveness, the growth, and the healing that takes place.
At least at this point in my life, I can't imagine doing anything else...