Well, so okay, I'm back. Again.
A year and a half ago, I had hoped that by this time, I would be in a new job away from the ministry, finishing up my fourth, destined-to-be-a-bestseller, book.
But I'm still pretty much in same place I was then. And perhaps I'll stay in the job for just a while longer. The denomination knows I'm unhappy and is trying to find a place for me in a bigger city, perhaps doing some unconventional work, which I'll tell about later if it comes to happen.
I had wanted to move far away to another part of the country, and perhaps I still will, but there are reasons to stay in the area, too. My sons are grown but it would be nice to be near them. My parents are old and sick and I need to able to see them if necessary.
And I still need a paycheck. I can't simply hop a freight train and move on. Well, I could but we need the healthcare and the income.
How can I manage the cognitive dissonance?
I still like doing chaplain care where I help the people find peace and resolution within the context of their beliefs. I go to the hospitals to visit people and I use their language, imagery, and rituals to make them feel comfortable. It's not appropriate to "evangelize" a patient. I'm not supposed to convince sick and/or dying persons that they've been wrong all their lives and that they need to make a change. I'm supposed to make things easier, not harder.
I try to do that in my church, too. I help people take the next step in front of them. I have never tried to insist that everyone be on the same page I am, theologically. I have always tried to help people take a step or two forward from where they are in their lives.
I'm still doing that as a pastor for a while longer. Maybe I always will in one way or another.