A few weeks ago, I taught a United Methodist young adult seminarians network workshop. And, for some reason, the thing that kept bubbling up for me as we talked was the urge to tell them to get help if when they need it.
I’m in my mid-thirties, and so are a lot of my friends. And what I’m finding in our lives right now is that we need help. Like, psychological or addiction recovery help. Treatment for depression or anxiety. We need counseling for our marriages. Stuff like that. It’s like the car needs its thirty-five year checkup, and it’s not working for us to look under our own hoods any longer. We need an expert.
The other thing that I’m seeing is that the people who don’t reach out for help aren’t really making it. But those who do, are flourishing.
Is this normal for middle age?
The problem comes in when the person’s a pastor. It’s hard to get help when you’re supposed to have it all together.
When I first sought out a therapist, I was a pastor in rural Louisiana, and I would drive three hours to talk to someone in the “big city” of Baton Rouge. I’ve known clergy who never got help from their addictions because they were afraid to go to an AA group. They suspected that it wasn’t really anonymous, they worried that they would run into someone that they knew, and so they never got the support they needed.
Anyways, as I looked around the room at the 20-something seminarians, that was what I kept thinking about.
On the other hand, the YAS’s were more worried about what parishioners would think about them if they drank. I guess according to the Book of Discipline, a pastor’s not supposed to. (Did I understand this correctly?) My experience has been the opposite. In my career, it would have been much more uncomfortable for me if I didn’t drink.
When I was working in a car dealership, I was always told that car salespeople and pastors had the highest rate of alcoholism. After extensive google research, I haven’t found any verification of the urban myth. But like so many myths, I bet there’s a hint of truth to it.
The photo’s by emurray