Thursday, September 17, 2009

Autumn Changes

i love the fall. there's something serene about the whole time. the feel, smell, and look of it just brings me peace. my fav. holiday is in here (Halloween) as well as my fav sport (football). it's just awesome!
i look forward to the jeans and t-shirt weather. watching football with my wife while enjoying a few brewskies, esp. Sam Adams' October Fest (best beer in existence!). curling up with a good book in bed after a long day of walking around and enjoying the leaves. watching Eve play in the leaves is gonna be really awesome. watching some scary movies or Hocus Pocus or Sleepy Hollow with some red wine is incredible relaxing too.
this fall is a little different. i start my last year of seminary and that brings with it some peace and some sadness. i'll be soon parting with friends i've made over the past two years... friends i've laughed, challenged, been challenged by, traveled to Egypt, and explored vast theological and ethical questions.
CPE is also bringing a new sense of peace this fall. I feel like I have come into my own.

I have realized how structured my life is and have come to the realization of why this came about. Growing up, I had no father. I felt as though this was a big deficiency and that if I could lose something as important as a father, than I could lose anything and everything in a heartbeat. I was a breath away from chaos and felt very vulnerable. I didn’t like this feeling, so to gain some control I developed ways of thinking and doing that produced definable and verifiable results. It was only later that I realized how capable my mother was and how lucky we were to not have my father around. Thomas Aquinas was taught in my Catholic school and I fell in love with his theology and the scientific method. I develop systems and strategies to understand the chaos, I am always working within a framework.
On the flipside, however; I also know how systems can leave many out. Being from a “broken home” I heard how this distortion of the family system and the sin of divorce are ruining society in my church. No matter how good a Catholic I was, I was still working from a negative space. I would never be fully accepted. So my systems then became less rigid, more flexible, more chaos tolerant.

All this was fine until I stepped into CPE. I thought I had a good handle on the world but I am now realizing how na├»ve I am. I keep going back to the image of stepping out from behind the telescope and observing the sky in its entirety. I am now over the initial shock. I feel more at home in the hospital as I have a better understanding of what the culture is like. I can empathize more now that I have the process down (and why the process looks like it does to meet the demands it must). I see how I can fit in. Initially I thought that I could never be a good chaplain. Like I’m lacking some integral part. I was trying to fit into a mold I would never go into. I painted myself as some purely intellectual person but that wasn’t true. I operate out of my head, but it is informed and balanced by my heart. I am a Myers Briggs “T” and do not have to become an “F” to do this job. I can track, feel, and yet synthesize what the patients are going through. I can name things that they already know, but don’t know they know it.

For example a woman yesterday was talking about how she feels under-appreciated by her husband. This feeling causes guilt in her for thinking about it and she doesn’t talk about it with her husband and thus she keeps feeling misunderstood, under-appreciated, and guilty. All I had to do was say “Wow, it sounds like you’re feeling trapped in this cycle.” And that was it. She broke down and cried and stated that was exactly it and then talked herself out of the cycle. All I had to do was be there and repeat her words back to her. Granted this is a “minor” situation, but it helped me realize that I AM equipped for this job. The brain always seems to be trying to figure out what the heart already knows and put words to it. I can help here. I can be a non-anxious presence in the midst of death, trauma, and heartache.

I can’t control everything and I have no desire to. My desire is to respond. Sometimes the best response is no response at all. I want to help others to respond as well. Many times they already know the way; they just need to say it to someone. A stranger works best here in these situations it seems because there’s no prior relationship there and therefore no judgment on the part of this stranger. This is the kind stranger example set by The Good Samaritan. I just show them the door that they always knew was there. I can show them this door, but they have to walk through it.

There were times where I just was, I didn’t reflect or try to “do” anything. I let the patients and the families do the doing. What they asked for I did (provide information, prayer, get them water) and when they asked me to go, I went. I feel like I was able to let go and move and not feel spent. I am now looking forward to my next shift. I am surprised at how much I’m enjoying this program and how much I’m learning.

I am learning how natural the process is for me. As natural and easy as the changing colors. For this is the season of change and change can be SO beautiful.


RJ said...

I pray that this last year in community continues to help you ripen in your ministry. It sounds like you are going deeper. Blessings.

Anonymous said...

"I am a Myers Briggs “T” and do not have to become an “F” to do this job." (Luke)

That's because you're a man - I got the same thing. Women, in general, function out of feelings first than into thoughts - which is good for us men (we think the opposite)...equilibrium?

I will say something which I think is true - the psychology of men and women is different and i am not sure this has been checked into deeply enough.

"Granted this is a “minor” situation, but it helped me realize that I AM equipped for this job." (Luke)

Do you know how 'minor' that confession really is though? You do know this is what women start saying while they are developing thoughts of cheating on their spouse...correct? I am not sure they want to - but you know - they have to escape that 'cycle' somehow. Beware of what you hear - it's a set-up for a more grand thing in life.

Congrats on the ministry - you're probably right on what we can do to help people - only what they ask.

Luke said...

SVS: gotta challenge your dualism dawg. I know many a male who is an "F", in fact one of my supervisors is a ISFJ (my complete opposite). In society, men are viewed as not in touch with their emotions, but i always question how true this is. even the fact i'm a T doesn't erase the fact that i'm pretty tuned in to what i'm feeling.

"You do know this is what women start saying while they are developing thoughts of cheating on their spouse...correct?"

ahhh... didn't think to go down that route. I was just there for her to name it. what she does with it is about her, i have no further follow up. which in some ways is a curse and in others a blessing. i get the feeling that this woman has been carrying around this feeling for a while and now that it's name she'll be able to talk about it with her spouse. that's my impression, and i could be way off.

Anglican Gurl said...

@societyvs: I would agree with Luke. I am an extreme "T" as well on the Myers-Briggs. I am an "F" when it comes to my boys and husband but could not care less about anyone outside of that. I know that is not too Christian and I am working on this, but that is my default. Although I tend to lash out like an "F", go figure.

Al said...

I also am an ISFJ. So there! But like our Myers-Briggs facilitator told us, after about 25 you start looking at the opposite side and in some ways switching over. So, maybe you are headed my way!!