Grace is messy. I know we like to think of grace as the thing from God that makes it all, makes everything all better, but there can be times where that refining process takes longer than we’d like. There are times when we will hit rock bottom, wishing the pain would just go away, and when it doesn’t we try to take care of the pain ourselves.
A few weeks ago, Jason & I interviewed Steve Austin for the latest episode of Crackers & Grape Juice. This is the best episode we’ve recorded so far. Better than NT Wright, Rob Bell or even Fleming Rutledge.
I met Steve in a Facebook group for Christian bloggers and authors. Steve posted a link to his latest book, From Pastor to Psych Ward: Recovery from a Suicide Attempt is Possible, and I knew from the title I needed to read it.
This book is about as honest as you can get.
Steve doesn’t hold much back as he looks back on what led him from the pulpit to the psych ward. Steve burned the candle at both ends: working full-time, being a father & husband, and also serving a church. On top of that he had been abused as a child (to which he openly deals with what that meant for him as a teenager and also as an adult).
When things got to the point of no return, when the pain was too much to bear, when he felt as though there was no grace left Steve decided it was time to end it. It sounds blunt, but when you hear Steve talk about it, he’s blunt. Jason & I tried to tip-toe around saying it and then Steve helped us.
Sexual abuse, lack of self-care, and church ministry is a dangerous cocktail. We all know those pastors and church workers who seem to work endlessly, always finding one more thing that needs to be done. We often think to ourselves, “if I don’t do it, it won’t get done.” And this is often true. But at what cost?
I was addicted to connection: phone, text, email, social media, blogging… Because I had no boundaries, I had built a wall that separated me from my family.
I have often fallen into this trap, luckily for me I have people around me (mostly Allison) who step in, tell me I need to take a breather, and then re-evaluate what I need to be doing. And again, we all do it, especially in a time where pastors and church workers are just a text, Facebook message, or tweet away. The worst part of it is that we respond.
Steve points out that even today, we feel compelled to respond to the message we receive at 9:00 PM, a time when I should be spending time with my wife. I feel compelled to respond to the text message when I am watching my son play soccer. I myself am building up a wall that separates myself from those who I care deepest for.
So what are we to do?
I’m glad you asked. Go to Amazon, download Steve’s book, and let’s talk about it. I think it starts with a mix of self-care and boundaries but I want to hear what your think.
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