Happy Moon’s Day
One year ago today (May 27th, 2018), I preached my last sermon as a Christian pastor. When people ask me how I am doing, I am doing as well as can be expected, given the time of year and the memories involved with it. Part of that is leaving the identity behind of ‘pastor’. This week is dotted with a lot of emotions, but leaving the ministry behind for good was bittersweet and it speaks to me of waste. The thought that I have wasted 20 years of my life crosses my mind a lot.
My last sermon couldn’t have been more ironic. I was in an affair preaching on adultery from the ten commandments. My basic message was that if Jesus’ words on adultery were the facts, then we have all failed and we just need to cling to grace because that is all we got. No one is going to make it if the standard is not lusting. No one could meet that standard.
Emotionally this was my most difficult sermon ever. I just wanted the service to end and go home. Neither my flame at the time or my wife was there and I felt alone and just sick of being a pastor and all of it. I went home, the woman I was having an affair with told her aunt about it. I told my wife and the rest is a painful history.
I wouldn’t have minded so much but when it came to my last church, the message of grace seemed completely lost, even though I had been preaching it for nine and a half years to them. Lots of wasted words from my point of view. The man I entrusted my resignation to engaged in a plan to basically make things to be much worse than they really were.
For the record once again, I have never actually had sex with the woman I had an affair with, in fact ever. At the time of my resignation, it had barely graduated beyond “I love you” and holding hands at a prayer meeting that looked normal to everyone else. People made this to be much more than it was and that hurt too. Because the man in charge let it happen on purpose. He told me he didn’t want gossip to spread through the church which is very sensible. He also told me he didn’t want to drag the woman into it either to protect her, something that was my concern as well. But once he had my resignation I had revised removing that confession line at his request, he called the woman up within probably minutes of me giving it to him and asked her permission to tell the story.
In the week’s that followed he did everything possible to make sure that gossip and rumor were exactly what happened. He deliberately dragged the woman into it (made possible by the fact we had broken up at the time and we were not talking to each other) to do this and used her to get to me. I looked like I was hiding something, which I wasn’t. He looked like the hero so he could feed that ego and hero complex of his. He used it in the following weeks to paint a picture of me as a monster, the woman as a victim and him as the white knight that was here to bring the monster down. What a load of bullshit he piled up. All of it.
In the end, he used the emotional hurt and anger of the congregation to get me fired and no severance given. I was never informed of anything that was going on officially until it was all over. The whole process was done without me being asked to speak on my own behalf one time. ‘Grace’ and ‘Mercy’ at their finest. That’s sarcasm if you can’t tell. Bitter Sarcasm.
I have forgiven the congregation for this. They were misinformed and misled by a man who has to be in control of everything because he is personally insecure. People like him are in every church and the real cause of problems and why churches don’t succeed and have the reputations they have. I have even forgiven the woman’s busybody aunt who did the most to engage in gossip. She was just acting in anger and hurt and I very much understand it. She actually had good reasons to act the way she did, even if her actions were not very Christian. Whatever that means.
But the man himself – if there is any force of justice in the world I hope he has to experience the betrayal, manipulation, lies, theft of honor, and all the rest of it that he visited on me himself. That karma visits on him the exact same thing he did to me. If nothing else I hope he lives a long and miserable life surrounded by no one at the end of it. That would be an end which he deserves because of his very utilitarian view of friendship. His friends no longer seeing him as useful so they simply don’t show up to help or comfort him. That would be truly fitting.
As far as me and The Grey, this ‘one year ago thing’ is bothering me but I am moving through it. I refuse to go down to this storm. I want to walk through it laughing at it. Mostly though, I just want a new sense of identity beyond the pastoral ministry thing. It’s garbage to me now. An old cloak I have discarded. The white hat, the cross, and white cloak no longer suit me. I prefer grey vestments and vulknut medallion now.
Mostly, my wife and I are trying to build some new memories. I worry about her as she has to get used to a man who is in many ways, not the same as he was. A man who is damaged in some ways, trying to heal as well. Who will never completely heal and will no longer be what he was. I want her to be happy because my own happiness depends on it. I just don’t know about my side of it a lot.
The last sermon I preached in the church was ironic but also fitting. The whole thing of pastoral ministry is adultery in my opinion now. A pastor’s church is a mistress. One that takes a lot and gives back very little and much like a real mistress drives a wedge between you and those you love as a pastor. A smart man gets out a lot sooner than I did.
I walk The Grey right now. It is this time of year last year where every day has some significant event and memory that makes it difficult. It probably won’t stop until the summer is over. I am just trying to live my life and living it in joy as much as possible. If it wasn’t for the guilt and pain I have associated with these memories of last year, it would be easier. The thing is I have come to accept that this walk is my path, but I can’t control the weather. I wish I could.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.