One of the things I have been least prepared for in my position in Pine Ridge is how lonely it can be. Even when I am in a crowd of people.
Sometimes I feel that I am all alone. Part of this is the nature of being a pastor and some of it is from being in Pine Ridge. In seminary you are taught to create boundaries. You should not be friends with your people. Friendly yes, friends no. And this makes sense in a way. You need to remember that you are often brought into the tough moments of people’s lives. And you need to not be seen, even wrongly, as playing favorites. As the director I must retain a little distance from the employees. I must be prepared to make decisions that are best for the center.
And here I am seen by many as a resource.
I had 10 direct requests for financial assistance today. Multiple requests from the homeless community and it felt like everyone wanted something from me. I have a great staff and I can count on them for many things. And they do a great job of screening for me. Yet even they can have needs. And the demands of the center fall on me. No coffee cups- me. Need supplies for the kids – me. All of which I signed up for.
Sometimes I just want to run away. Not long. Not far. But away. To be alone. When I can I take a walk.
So what else helps? Knowing that people have my back. A call from a friend to see if I am okay. A reminder of some of the good we do. A friendly conversation with a coworker. Time with my wife Jackie is most important. But I try not to burden her with all that is happening.
All of which is to say I am lonely at times.
Yet I love what I do. I have met some incredible people. We are making a difference. And I know that God wants me here. God loves me. God Loves the people we serve. God loves you.
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