“Who will pastor you?”
“And will you please come back nicer!”
The last words I heard as I left at 7 AM for the airport en route to Israel. Half joking, half serious. Part accusation, part invitation. Seventeen pastors were on the tour. She said sharply: “Get pastored! It’s not like you won’t have plenty of opportunity!”
Opportunity is not my problem, however. My problem is I don’t seek pastoral care. Why? Perhaps it’s because I am a pastor. I know too much. I think the deep reason has to do with me. My distrust. My independence. My fear of being deeply known. My fear of being labeled or categorized. My fear of being Bibleized [I just made up that word – it means “to have a person’s stories of shame reduced or contained by Bible passages”]
So I don’t seek pastoral care. But he sought me.
Sitting on plastic seats with a plastic table cloth eating shawarma in that characteristic paper sleeve a pastor engaged me in conversation. In that Palestinian restaurant in Nazareth a pastor noticed me. Pursued me. We had more shawarma conversations.
Several days later, at another site, I walk through the gate of the entrance and pastor comes up to me. He says something that both surprises and delights me. Surprise because I didn’t expect it. Delight because my defenses were outflanked.
Rarely do my defenses fail me. I’m not often surprised. But when I am, feel impressed by the person who caught me. I feel the congratulatory. “Good job ! Well done! “ Maybe this doesn’t make sense. I don’t know how else to put words around it. I think my emotional defenses are so rarely penetrated. I’m so rarely outflanked.
At the entrance of the complex the pastor approaches and says, “Hey, I’ve watched you. I’ve noticed you never stay still. You’re always looking up something in a guide book or moving or pre-occupied by something. Have you ever read about ADHD? I know a little bit about it. I’ve pastored many who have it. I think you may have it. You should address it when you get back home. You need to care well for your body before you find you can rest in God’s love for you.”
I do have ADHD.
I don’t know if I came back nicer, but I did get pastored.