Okay. I'm a person who needs to process things externally. Most often that is done through talking with friends. But I'm home alone, and it's late and I don't really want to call someone and risk waking them up or whatnot. And besides, it's not that big of an issue. I just want to process. So, although it might sound negative (I'm not sure how it will end up sounding, I haven't started processing yet!), be reassured that it probably isn't half as bad as it may sound.
I think I'm ready to be done with my internship, even though I have about five more months. I really enjoy the working relationship I have with my Supervising Pastor. I don't think I could have expected or asked for a better one. We are very similar in a lot of respects, theologically and politically, and that is very good. I enjoy the people here, too. In fact, I think every week I appreciate something new about somebody different. I like how that happens, and how it catches me by surprise. I enjoy the work I do. When I distribute communion, and get to include people in this wonderful communal event, and when the kids come up for blessings. Especially this boy, about 7 or so, who when he comes up through the line will point to his forehead to let you know where to put your hand for the blessing. That makes me smile. Or the little girl, about 6 years old, who always tries something different to make me laugh when I give her the blessing. She used to growl at me, but now she's started bringing items up with her. This past week was a little yellow stuffed baby chicken. And she whispered "chicky!chicky!" causing the woman next to her to stifle a laugh, and got a big grin out of me. It's just things like that which make it feel like a great big family dinner AND I LOVE THAT! I even appreciate the people who don't agree with me (although I've only had one person really come at me with things he did not approve of) because they cause me to think differently and consider different viewpoints, and they don't let me hang out in my little box that I'm comfy in.
But the thing that gets to me is that it seems once I leave the walls of the church building, my life apparently ends. As soon as I'm done interacting with people at worship services and committee meetings and youth Bible studies, I'm done interacting with people period. My only social life is my work social life. And if you know me at all then you know how much I THINK THAT SUCKS! Sometimes I just wish I had someone to call up and say "I think I want pizza for supper. Want to go to Pizza Hut with me?" or "I thought about renting a movie. Want to come over and watch it with me?" or "I think I might go shoot a paintball gun, but I need someone to drive the car while I shoot at people." You know? It would just be great to have a system of support outside of the people at church where I didn't feel like I had to be "Pastor Intern Mark," and I could just be Mark and I could say things like "Shit" and "You know [random person from church] is really stupid and has a horseface" -- and I wouldn't have to worry that people would think that wasn't acceptable behavior from a pastor, or worse yet [and this is the bigger risk at my church] that the person I vent about the horse-faced parishioner to will be related to them in some way. [editor's note: at this point i should say that I do not consider anyone at church to have a horse face. It was a hypothetical example.]
As of right now, my closest friend is about a 2 hour drive away. So it takes a lot of planning and phone calling or e-mailing to set up an appointment where I can go and say "shit." And that's not always fun or even a possibility.
People in the congregation have asked me about that. They ask me what I do for fun. I tell them that I go to the local parks (they have a lot of state parks which are pretty cool) or I check out the nearby big cities sometimes. Then they let me know that they have been wondering about that, because they don't know what a young, single person would do in this town. Even people my age (most of whom in this church are married) ask me if I do much for fun, because they have no idea what that would be.
So that makes me long for seminary. For the days when I could step out of my room and be inches from my best friends. And there was always something going on at seminary. If I walked around enough, or called enough friends, eventually I'd run into someone or talk to someone who was planning on doing something or just on their way to doing something, and they'd say "why don't you come along?" and then the fun would ensue. So if I could combine the work that I'm doing with the social life that I had at seminary, I think I would pee my pants with excitement.
This even kind of makes me look back whimsically on my stint as a youth director, because I loved the youth I worked with and had a social life outside of work, although there were a lot of issues with the pastors I worked with. But I remember doing meaningful work and then being able to leave from that and hang out and talk with people who I felt I could relax and let loose around.
But then I think that once this internship ends, I'll go back to seminary and that will be a good thing. My social life will inevitably sky rocket. But that will only last for approx. 9 months. Then I get to go back out into a church where chances are I will be in a much similar situation as to the one I am in right now. That kind of worries me. Although I tell myself that there's the possibility I'll be in a bigger city or closer to friends or WHO KNOWS?!?!? maybe even married by then. But I also tell myself that, especially considering the make up of the Lutheran church, the odds are greater that I'll end up in some podunk little town, similar to or smaller than this one, with a two day drive to get to my closest friend, by myself.
Anyway, enough about that. Thanks for listening.