Monday, May 21, 2012

Forgive Me Brothers, I Have Sinned

Forgive me brothers I have sinned. It has been three weeks since I entered a flyshop, fished, and longer since I have blogged. I have been mostly absent on social media. I have only had two outdoor salvations of late. The first was spending a weekend in Port Aransas (not fishing), quietly celebrating our anniversary with my bride. The second was spending all day Saturday with two buddies moving feeders and blinds to my new deer lease deeper in the Texas Hill Country.

There hasn't been much outdoor fun in large part due to layoffs in two major areas of my life. The first came from an unlikely place; my church. For many of us, church is a refuge from the pressures and cares of life. It is a place of renewal, inspiration, rest, and family. Being the son of a pastor, church has always been a second home to me. But even churches have budgets and bills, preferences and politics. I guess those are inevitable when you get a few people together. In our case, preferences and politics have caused more than a few people to leave our congregation, which reduced giving,  and  the result was several very good friends on staff whom I greatly admire and love found themselves looking for work. And here is a tidbit you may not know - ministers are considered self-employed, so there is no unemployment to help make ends meet when your paychecks stop. With the exception of the rare but unfortunately over-publicized televangelist type, most ministers are not in ministry to get rich. Many have no health insurance, retirement benefits, or the ability to send their children to college. To be perfectly honest, those layoffs though necessary financially, hurt me deeply because many of the people affected are like family to me.

The second layoff came a couple of weeks later . While I was working from home, I received an instant message that my manager and several co-workers' jobs had been eliminated. They were all given a short time to find another open job at my company, but to my knowledge none did. So with a smaller workforce but increasing workload, my nights and weekends have been consumed with work, leaving precious little time for much else. Most mornings my eyes open with my mind already speeding through my calendar and to-do list before my feet hit the floor.

My natural tendency is to prefer predictability and security in the core areas of my life. I don't mind and actually like change in some areas, like job responsibilities - as long as at the core I feel certain that I will continue to have a job.  When I perceive that core security is threatened, my stress level rises pretty quickly. Its a character defect I am working on.

Things seem to be settling in a bit, and at least I am becoming more comfortable with my new-found responsibilities. But some days I just feel like running away and moving into a small cabin in the mountains. 

Recently I read something  about the elusive work-life balance. I thought it was pretty profound that the author stated very bluntly that such balance is a myth. He asserted that in fact there are natural ebbs and flows in life, therefore seeking balance and never achieving it only leads to frustration because we buy into the myth of its existence. What we should seek is peace that doesn't depend on circumstance.

Maybe he is on to something. For years I was frustrated because I bought in to the myth that life should be fair. When I learned to let go of that myth I realized that no mater how much I prayed, how much I gave, how much I served others, life would still be unfair. Spouses sometimes leave. Friends sometimes die too soon. Layoffs and economic downturns come. Disasters strike the just and the unjust alike.  Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. It seems so...random because I seek to maintain some measure of control. To demand justice from the cosmos.

Perhaps this is a struggle for us all. Even though I believe in a God who is in control, I often desire to seize control from him because deep down, I don't fully trust that he has my best intentions at heart. And so as I do so, I run down the path of anxiety and stress, rather than completely trusting and resting in the plans of the Creator. I know this, yet I find myself often repeating the mistake. Pretty heavy stuff.

In the near future I expect I will once again be on a stream or a pond chasing finned quarry, and momentarily releasing my conscious grasp on control. Maybe that is why we enjoy the outdoors so much, because there we are comfortable knowing we are out of control. We can't control the weather, the bite, the hatch, the other anglers, or the hour of the day. Yet we revel in participating in nature. We are a curious sort, you an I. 

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