An Overly Revealing Problematic Sharing Moment Because I Love You

Note to email subscribers: you are getting this a second time. My apologies.  I deleted the initial post thinking I shouldn’t actually post it.  Then I triple-guessed myself and remembered that I swore a long time ago to live more transparently (despite my discomfort with it) and decided to repost it.

First: I don’t like sharing articles like this ( As a pastor, it feels passive-aggressive and a backward cry for help/attention.

Second: I’m sharing this because I almost wrote it earlier thinking, sometimes it’s okay to cry for help… or, more accurately, cry for understanding.

Third: What I would add is that I have started way too many conversations lately with:

“I’m running on empty…”

“I’m stressed out…”

“I’m tired…”

I’d like to just flip a switch with regards to that but this is not how physical/mental/emotional health works. And it’s not how you stop the world from dumping more on your plate either.

Fourth: I’m not wanting this to be an excuse.  And frankly, I don’t want attention as strange as that may sound given I’m publicly posting this.  I do want to keep finding appropriate space, support, and help to weather the storm to the other side.  (Fear not: I’m getting help… my hypocrisy knows some boundaries.) But more than that I want you to know that this isn’t about me.  This is about everyone.  Because this isn’t a pastor story – it’s a people living in community story.  It’s a family story.  It is EVERYONE’s story.

And with that said… my own thoughts to add to that article linked above (you will want to read it at some point, whatever point you choose, now/already/or after what follows but now is probably an appropriate time if you haven’t already):

I agree with everything this article says and more. I’d add that there is an even harder process to go through, people who leave for celebratory reasons weigh on a pastor, in fact sometimes even more. A new job, a new relationship, a life transition. All good reasons people leave and you are happy for them… but not happy for the loss of them as part of your community.  Like postpartum depression or an empty-nest syndrome.  A good thing can still cause grief.

It’s harder because the grief is selfish. But the grief is still real. The community of faith we foster is our family. It is, for many of us (not pastors alone), our first, second, and third place/home. And when things outside of our control stress it, tear it, or send part of it off on another journey (which is constantly happening) we carry an emotional toll for it.

When people in that place are stressed, torn, absent… we bear these stresses too.  Because for all our deficiencies, and for all our struggle to show it as much as we might wish to, pastors do what we do because we genuinely hope for a better life for the people around us.   We hope for a better life BECAUSE of the people around us.   And while we struggle sometimes with our own messiah complexes we still know we cannot do that – it doesn’t depend on us and imagining it does is harmful to everyone.  But you still try, our hearts are not rational.  And you yearn for well-being and wholeness, and you lament it when you are reminded again and again that it there are many roadblocks beyond our control.

So yes.  There are seasons of growth and seasons of splendor and seasons of stagnation and seasons of death.  It has always been so and it will always be.  And coping with that takes community and self-care.  And coping with that isn’t necessarily any easier for knowing it’s no-one’s fault.  I share this with a hope that we will all remember that we all carry such burdens… and it’s why we all need grace.  forgiveness.  mercy.  healing.  hope.

Now back to the part where sharing this as a pastor is complicated and probably shouldn’t be done.  Some of you are reading this feeling like it’s your fault I’m stressed – please don’t.  I’m grateful you have trusted me to be a part of your life.  Some of you MAY from some misplaced sense of care decide not to burden me with anything else.  (It’s what I would do, I have a lifelong fear of being a burden to people that I cannot shake.)  And I expressly forbid that line of reasoning!!! (Like you listen to me anyway…. *wink*) Burden me, just as I’m burdening you with all this right now.  Because we cannot carry burdens alone.  That’s why we are so invested in other’s lives. But also, seek understanding, empathy, and grace.  Not to me.  To everyone.  That is the reason I write things here.  Even self-revealing things like reaching my own finiteness and limits.  So, that I might learn from them how to see them in others.  So, that you might see in my story, your story… and your neighbor’s story.  And vice-versa.

Someday I will drop kids off at college.  I will watch them marry and leave.  I will watch tragedy strike them if I’m lucky enough to stay tragedy free myself.  These burdens will happen.  They are not a reason not to experience the joy.  They are not a reason not to fully invest in sharing and living our life together.  I welcome the grief because I love love… and the two go hand in hand.  And I love all the seasons because death is part of life, and rebirth and I’m a child of resurrection.  I just want you to know what season I’m in… and I want to know what season you’re in too… and that I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Though I wouldn’t mind a break right now.

love you! – andrew

About Andrew Kukla

I am the proud father of four wonderful children, loving husband to Caroline, brother to three mostly wonderful sisters, and son of two parents that gifted me with a foundation of love and freedom. I also am a Presbyterian pastor and former philosophy major with a love of too many words (written with many grammatical errors and parenthetic thoughts), Soren Kierkegaard, and reflections on living a life of discipleship that is open to all the challenges, ups and downs, brokenness and grace, of a chaotic and wonderful life founded upon the love of God for all of creation.

Posted on March 1, 2017, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Sending you love and no new burdens. Honestly!

  2. Good stuff, and timely, Andrew. Just this week, we saw one of the most respected members of our wildland fire leadership leave for retirement. And the family grieves, because its what families do… Though we are happy that he will enjoy his retirement.

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