I have a confession. There are times when I'm not very patient. There are some people who I find very annoying. There are some people who I find it very hard to give pastoral care. I ran into one of these women today. I think she first got under my skin when she was bothered because we weren't concerned enough about her husband's illness some time ago. We were in the process of celebrating the life of a young person who had died way too young. She was upset because her husband's mystery illness had been diagnosed as an infection that would require two days in the hospital for antibiotics. He would make a complete recovery. She thought it was terrible that he had to spend two days in the hospital. I thought it was great that he had a diagnosis that would lead to a complete recovery. I pointed that out to her, but she couldn't hear it.
She has a new crisis. She was grieving today. Her son graduated from college in the spring. He found a job in retail that put him on the management track. He would have to complete training, and then would be assigned to a store. He has completed training. He has been given an assistant manager position in a store a couple of states away. He is moving. He doesn't know anyone in the new state. He doesn't have an apartment yet. The economy here is still not doing well, yet he graduated college and walked into a job. He's been given a management position. He is on the ladder. We have one man who graduated almost 2 years ago, and has not been able to find a job. We have a woman who had to move back into her parents' home after being laid off and not being able to put together enough jobs to pay her rent. Yes, she will miss her son. He has been given a wonderful opportunity.
I think part of it is that parenting a special needs child, I have learned a different perspective. For me the cup is half full. For this woman, the cup is half empty. The other issue is that while she is wrapped up in her "crises." I am providing pastoral care in some horrific situations. When her husband was sick, I was in the midst of dealing with a grieving family and a grieving congregation. While her son is off following his dreams, I am ministering to someone who came out of an experience of horrific abuse and had dreams sabotaged by an abusive parent.
I was able to listen this morning. I hope my face reflected compassion, not impatience. There are times when it's hard to show compassion. It wouldn't be appropriate to tell her about other situations and tell her she has lots to celebrate, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is confidentiality. It's not always easy being a pastor.