Back when I was a nursing major which was a few moons ago, I heard one thing about being a nurse: you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. You might hear something similar when you board an airplane. The flight attendants while taxiing on the runway go over safety procedures — they explain that if the oxygen masks fall down to put one on yourself before assisting children or those around you. You can’t help anyone if you aren’t helping yourself – plain and simple.
I thought switching over into ministry from nursing was going to be a piece of cake. People at church always told me I had a gift for ‘preaching’ and that I should be a pastor one day. I like people. I enjoy theology. I like speaking and sharing in front of people. It sounds like a piece of cake, right? Wrong.
Ministry is similar in nursing in the fact that instead of caring for the physical wounds, you are caring for the spiritual ones. Spiritual wounds are arguably much harder to heal than physical ones.
I don’t think I’ve ever been truly challenged as much as I have been interning at my church this summer. From starting up the visioning process for youth ministry to planning a one-day Vacation Bible School, ministry is no joke. It doesn’t follow the 9-5 lifestyle some jobs allow their employees to live.
Ministry requires you to continually pour into others in order to fill them up to the brim, to make sure they know they are loved, and to validate their humanity. Ministry requires you to be on your a-game at all times. You can’t mess up the Sunday school lesson, because then it may not have the impact it should. You can’t take a day off, because there is always someone who needs something from you. You don’t get the chance to take a step back until it’s too late.
Ministry is a field that expects perfection, but it’s just not feasible every second of every day. I have my own personal crap to work on. I need to place the face mask on myself before I help anyone else. I need to fill my cup to the brim before I can start to fill anyone else’s. I need help.
This summer internship has taught me one thing: always ask for help. Even if you think you got it in the bag, even if you think you can do it alone, you can’t. Not always, at least. I am starting to feel okay about having to ask for help.
I kind of have an ego, so I hate admitting that I can’t do it alone. I hate showing my weaknesses (there are many!). It’s just a lot easier to struggle through everything alone and quietly then to reach out and say “help me.” That’s wrong. I was wrong. I really do need help even when I don’t think I do. Right now, I’m trying to plan a VBS. I thought I could do it alone, I couldn’t. I had to ask for help. God provided help.
I thought I could grieve through my grandmother’s death alone, I can’t. I thought I could come out and deal with all of that alone, I can’t. I thought I could deal with family drama alone. I can’t. I can’t go through this life alone. That’s why I’m going to counseling. I realize I can’t go through Hell alone.
This blog is going to change. It’s going to be a place for me to help myself. It’s hopefully going to help someone else who might be going through similar things. I hope it helps you. Please be thinking about me as I begin this journey. Don’t be afraid to reach out. I’m always on my phone. Please don’t let me go through this alone.
hugs & kisses, michael