How Does This Pastor Work Through An Existential Crisis?
I know, you have questions
- What is an existential crisis?
According to Google: An existential crisis is a moment at which an individual questions the very foundations of their life: whether their life has any meaning, purpose, or value.
2. Why is a Pastor having an existential crisis?
The first question was a lot easier to answer. I decided to not Google the answer to the second question because this is my story not Googles.
Last night, I couldn’t make a decision about anything. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go to the movies or if I wanted to play a game or if I wanted to go to Starbucks and read. Instead, I went to Barnes and Nobles and… I couldn’t decide if I wanted to by a book. So, I bought my first Pumpkin Spice of the season, sat in Barnes and Nobles, and wondered about my sad little existence.
Now, before you start feeling all sorry for me, don’t. As a Pastor I meet people all the time who have no idea why they’re on planet earth. You meet enough spiritual vagabonds you begin to question your own existence and purpose.
The questions don’t hit me when I’m helping people because I’m living my purpose; they hit me when I can’t make a decision and I’m sipping coffee alone in a Barnes and Nobles.
Pastors are like anyone else. We’re human and faith doesn’t always quell our questions or questioning. I don’t think it’s suppose to. I think questioning is a good thing. I’d like to think this helps me help others. If they know that I have the same questions they do they are far more open to my counsel.
How do I work through moments like these?
- I look at it as just that, a moment.
Moments come and go. Every Bible character I’ve ever read about has had these moments. David the slayer of Giants, writes in the Psalms that, at times, he wanted to die. Job suffered greatly and questioned God and his plan. Solomon wrote a whole treatise on these moments in Ecclesiastes. Peter jumped out of a boat to see if it was Jesus walking on the water. Jesus wept in a garden and asked God, His Father, why He had forsaken him. All of these moments make these people real to me. Moments come and go but are all part of the human experience.
2. I do a life quick, mini, life audit.
I look at all I have, a good family, a good job, a legacy of helping young people, I sigh, take another sip of coffee and let gratefulness wash over me. Life is good independent of my beliefs but my beliefs offer me context and a big picture. Some of my friends don’t believe in destiny but I do. My moments of doubt, wondering, and uncertainty are part of The Plan not only for my life but every life. When I have these moments I realize they are par for the course and doesn’t take anything away from my beliefs.
3. Finally, I process the moment by writing about it
When I came to grips with my various struggles with depressions, I wrote about it. When I struggled with success I wrote about it. When I have these moments, I write about it. I’m not ashamed of any of it. In writing about my struggles, I can sense the goodness of God. The fact that I have the ability and self awareness to call myself out is a gift in and of itself and I believe it was given to me to help other people.
Being human is not a sin. Having doubts is not a curse. Drinking a coffee and realizing how small you are is a gift.
Cue Switchfoot’s Meant To Live as I get up, throw away my coffee, step out into the cool of the evening and look up at the stars.