feeling and failing


    After today, I have two weeks before my time at Hanover comes to an end.

    Tonight we had the Stockholders’ Dinner for those who helped us go on the mission trip to Jackson, Mississippi. The evening went well and I sorely missed all our graduated folks who are now writing the first chapter of their college lives. One was there tonight because she doesn’t leave for school until Wednesday. The others who went on the trip and the adult sponsors were there to tell about our experiences. We fed folks, talked a lot, and then watched a movie that one of our college students made of the trip. We asked him to go along as “documentarian” and he filmed all week and then put together a wonderful twelve-minute film that really captured the emotion of our experience.

    Ginger asked me when I got home if I was sad. The short answer to her question is yes and I also feel good about the move I’m making to cook full time. Within about thirty minutes, I had descended into a strange funk that gave off such a toxic vibe it almost had an odor. I came upstairs to try and figure it out. I’ve been sitting here for an hour, and I think I understand it better: leaving feels like failure to me. I know I’ve worked hard the last three years. I feel good about what I’ve done. I’m grateful for the relationships that formed in the time I was at Hanover. I can hear the compliments and affirmations that have come from folks in the church AND leaving feels like failure to me. It always has. On a visceral, guttural, core of me being level, something tells me I’m leaving because I’m not enough. I’m on my own now because I’m not enough. The song that keeps running through my head (and showed up out of nowhere) is David Bowie’s “Ground Control to Major Tom” about the astronaut who goes out on a spacewalk and never makes it back:

    here am I floating like a tin can, far above the moon
    planet earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do . . .

    I don’t know how to articulate more than that tonight because I’m falling asleep and my exhaustion is probably exacerbating the intensity of the emotion. I do know it’s more than an Oskar Schindler saying, “I could have done more.” Of course I could have — and I did a good job. It is also something other than desperately needing someone to tell me they’re proud of me. The best I can describe it, I feel a sense of failure in the disconnect and, at some level and quite forcefully, what I hear – even in making this move for reasons I believe in – is I am more alone, therefore I failed.

    I know the voice is insidious. I know it’s a lie. And it wounds my soul and makes life miserable for Ginger. I don’t know anything else to do right now but to name it and work hard to do more than just stink up the place.



    1. I can empathize with that feeling. Go get on the treadmill at the gym. It won’t change much in the long run, but, like a hard work out after a hangover, it gets rid of the funk.
      I passed your July post about moving in a different direction to a priest (Episcopal) friend of mine who works with discernment for priests – nudging them back into what they love, or into taking a brave new step. Those paths, the ones that don’t follow a traditional route, are harder to take, because you have to make your guideposts up as you go along. Keep the faith, Milton, you’re a great guide.

    2. I can’t tell you how you’re supposed to feel, but from here, it looks like one door closing while another one opens. You’re supposed to make this move. It’s the next step.

    3. Barbara Brown Taylor’s Leaving Church… it’s very healing and helped me to name some things, too. Pick it up, or let me know and I’ll loan you my copy.
      In the meantime, know that I’m in your corner.

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