Managing Pastoral Stress

well this is one way to do it

Today it felt really good to basically delete all of my appointments on my calendar for the next 2-3 weeks (depending on if I will need surgery or not) as I will be recuping from a sports-related incident – as you can see above. Yep, it’s real, aint no Halloween makeup, I took a line-drive hit to the face (right cheekbone) in a game of softball, lefty batter, and he clocked that thing right at me as I was playing first. I wish I could say that “it took a bad skip” (which it did – pretty nasty); but the truth was, I was trying to field a hard-hit ball with very little practice and certainly not the best experienced hands on the field. I know Jeter makes it look so easy and somehow I thought I could translate that smooth effortless fielding into my own hands; I thought wrong. So I ended up with facial fractures here and there, sinus rupture, and I still walked off the field on my own (yay me!). My eye was 100% ok, no concussion, no swelling in the brain and in the end- I’m just very lucky. It could have been worse. While I face the possibility of a little reconstructive surgery, it is really no big deal as it is a standard outpatient procedure of patching up some of the cracks here and there. I’ll spare you the details – but all to say – I AM OK.

And I’m very fortunate to say that.

Oh, not because it missed my eye, or didn’t do more damage, but there was a time (or times) in my life where a softball to the face would have done more than sideline me for a few weeks; it would have crushed me. I can’t remember who it was, but I recall reading about a minister of old who was assaulted and wounded and thereafter sunk into a deep depression; his wounds healed but his spirit was irretrievably crushed. I heard of a few cases of nurses who were assaulted by erratic patients and they could never really go back to work having sunk into occupational depletion. Not that a softball should do that much damage, but it is crushing to your spirit to be sidelined when you are already weak and not in good shape to begin with.

I am fortunate because I feel like I was in great shape to begin with, and it’s helping me to recover rather nicely.

Oh not perfect, of course, and there were things that were taxing, stressing, tiring, but I can say that I had carved out some really healthy margins that I think are making my recup so much better than if I had been smacked at other seasons of my life. In other words, if there were any time to get smashed in the face, now was the perfect time. I had joined an outdoor bootcamp (Camp Gladiator – CHECK IT OUT) a month before, so my body felt strong and able to withstand the injury. Even the day after the incident, I felt resilient, and agile, able to walk about. My family life was good beforehand, and I had been in contact with a lot of good friends and mentors who have been counseling / advising me. In all I feel fulfilled, meaningful, possessing a strong sense of reflective purpose about life and what I do, gratified and satisfied. All things considered I think I was in a healthy place to begin with.

But I have to also confess. There are some unhealthy rhythms that have set in to my life as of late. Damn that iphone (RIP Jobs) but I can’t seem to pull myself away from it. It’s digital crack. And even if it’s not work related, it’s those silly little pointless game apps, or something or another. I feel tired everytime I check back into that screen (which is why I am looking forward to a tech-free getaway to St. Benedicts in Nebraska along with other pastors in Mid-November). Also, come Sunday afternoon, I’ve been feeling so depleted that my typical Monday Sabbaths haven’t been as fulfilling or restful as they usually are. My life of prayer, built around rhythms of rising early, and recitation prayers during the set Divine Hours of the Day – have been frequently disrupted as of late. Practicing the Presence of God requires calm, rhythms, steadiness. My life has not been so much of late. So at the risk of spiritualizing narcissism, I would give myself a “C” grade spiritually of late, a “B-” grade emotionally, an “A” in family life (honey you can corroborate or refute that) and definitely an “A” physically. Maybe it’s the “A’s” that’s carrying me right now, into what feels like a pretty positive, and if I shant say so myself, robust recovery from getting smashed in the face with a softball.

So what will I do for the next 2 – 3 weeks? It would be wrong to do nothing. I don’t think that’s the point of rest at all. Maybe I should say, it will be a directed nothing; activities that don’t necessarily advance my position on the playboard, things that don’t contribute to my driving ambitions, things that are fun just by virtue of being fun, and not because I’m winning in the process. I LOVE company and visitors (and HARVEST – I LOVE YOU GUYS FOR LAVISHING SO MUCH CARE AND AFFECTION ON US!!) (keep it coming hee hee) and don’t mind convos at my place if you don’t mind looking at my bruised up eye. Lots of movies, play with the kids, naps, and snuggles (so long as they don’t tap my face *ouch) and I’ve got some ordination papers / classwork to keep me just on my toes for the next 2 – 3 weeks. After that, expect me back in the saddle, church, stronger than ever, by His renewing Grace.

*** Monday 10/17 UPDATE ***

Looks like I’ll be going into surgery tomorrow morning in the early AM at St. Luke’s in the Med Center Tuesday, October 18 at 7:30AM is my surgery time – keep me in your prayers. I’m not overly worried and was fortunate to be referred to the Chief of Plastic Surgery of Baylor Medical – a man with very good, experienced hands in stuff of this nature, facial trauma. Speaking of which, here is an updated photo:

while I’ve healed much, after the surgery I’ll probably revert back to the original photo above :) which is ok, since afterwards all will be realigned and healed for good. The fractures surrounding my cheekbone will be realigned and a titanium plate inserted below my right eye to keep it from sinking into the orbital floor. In brief I AM VERY LUCKY. But we’ll see tomorrow, knock on wood ;) Pray for: 1. Wisdom in the giftedness of Dr. Bullock’s hands 2. Safe surgery overall with no problems 3. speedy recovery as a time of rest, reflection, stillness, contemplation, soul-refreshment. 4. Good transition back into the pulpit and the rhythms of ministry.

All things considered I’m still chipper and in good spirits, and just generally happy / thankful. I can’t explain it. I should be in-and-out within 3-4 hrs and snugly home by noon tomorrow. Thank God. See you on the other side, when I re-begin my recovery.

Published by Wayne Park

Asian-American clergyman thinking about issues of faith, place, race and culture-making in the vast city of Houston, TX

4 thoughts on “Managing Pastoral Stress

  1. Saw you pic – and thought “Wow – Glad God was protecting Wayne! It could have been so much worse!”
    I’m glad you’re using this as an opportunity for rest and reflection. I like how you are using this time to evaluate your health in various arenas of life. And I pray that you will continue to hear from God through the next few weeks.
    Praying for you, bro!

    1. thanx, Larry
      it certainly could have (been worse). God is good.
      I’m chillin now, hangin out at home, still got plenty of stuff to do finishing off my CEOP / ordination req’s. But in all, restful.

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