Driven out but going back in

Chaplaincy, Theology

Keep the earth below my feet

For all my sweat, my blood runs weak

Let me learn from where I have been

Keep my eyes to serve and hands to learn

Keep my eyes to serve and hands to learn

– “Below My Feet” Mumford and Sons

An inmate got under my skin yesterday. I walked away frustrated, angry, and hurt. I didn’t deserve the triad he laid on me. This sort of thing used to happen quite a bit. When I first started at the Facility, I was constantly walking away hurt and angry but then, over time, I began to recognize that their anger was not about me but about the bigger world. I have been able to differentiate between what is theirs, mine, and the governments. 

So what happened yesterday?

I let my guard down. I forgot that no matter how friendly and kind I am with the inmates, no matter how many needs I meet or services that I oversee, I am the enemy. 

It was a reminder that I didn’t want but, in fact, needed. 

There is no education like adversity.” Benjamin Disraeli 

The real test will be whether or not I can go back in there today, maintain my professionalism, give great pastoral care, listen and lay aside my anger to be a pastor again. This is the calling of the chaplain, being able to lay aside “your stuff” in order to minister. It’s not the explosion avoidance in the moment that is the test of character, it’s the going back in the next day that defines.

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