Archive for the ‘On The Job’ Category

What I Do

So I tried to be a pastor once. It just didn’t work out. I drink, smoke and swear. Sometimes I do all three too much. Plus I’m a woman and therefore not welcome at many a pulpit. To top it off, I have bipolar disorder which means I had Sundays that I was full of gusto up front, able to spur the congregation on to praise and thanksgiving, able to open the service with the kind of energy the pastor and worship leader were looking for. Other Sundays, I was melancholy and invited the congregation to reflect on their struggles and cling to the cross as they sought out help, mercy, forgiveness and lifeline. Those days I brought a somber soul. Somber wasn’t what they were looking for. Needless to say, I didn’t feel all that welcome, so I quit being a pastor.

Now I’m a social worker. A mental health and substance abuse case manager to be precise. At any given time, I am serving close to 45 clients who are looking for housing, trying to get clean, battling the court system, and striving to understand and cope with their mental illnesses. Their substance abuse issues and mental illnesses range in severity, but no matter where they are at on the spectrum their disorders are debilitating and most are unable to hold a job. They struggle even to get along with other people and to understand societal norms. They all live in poverty and to be honest, have very little chance of getting out of poverty. They are engaged in their recovery at different levels of commitment as well. Their commitment levels range from, as we’d say clinically, precontemplation to action.

I love my job. My clients are tough. Some are tough because our personalities simply clash. Others are tough because they come to me with problems that truly have no good solutions. But they’re also hilarious, good people who have good stories to tell (some true, some based in psychosis, some straight up lies) and they all deserve respect. They’re all short on money, but they’re running even shorter on respect.

Found a song this week that completely describes what I do and the how’s and why’s of what I do. It’s by Fort Minor and called The Name.

You ready?! Let’s go!
Yeah, for those of you that wanna know what we’re all about
It’s like this y’all (c’mon)

This is ten percent luck
Twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure
Fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name

Not exactly bullet points I’d put on my resume. But that’s how I pull off what I do every day. And I do it because the people I serve deserve to be remembered. They deserve to be respected. I also do it because I have my own struggles and can very much relate to where they are coming from. But the biggest reason I do it is because I am a pastor at heart and I believe they all deserve to have someone in their life who can find that piece of gospel dwelling inside of them, call it out and cultivate it.

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Job Prospects

For my readers who pray…

After over a year of unemployment, I’ve had the opportunity to apply for two part-time jobs that I would absolutely love and am quite confident I would be good at.  The first is a youth suicide prevention educator.  This would be extremely part-time and would involve me going into jr. high and sr. high classrooms to give presentations about suicide prevention.  The other is for the missions coordinator at my church.  I’d help train short-term teams, deal with fundraising and coordinate communication with long-term missionaries.  I really, really, really want this job!  The crazy thing is, both jobs would fit well together as far as time goes.  Also I am only taking two MSW classes this fall and both are in the evening, so they would fit with that schedule as well.  So…

Pray hard!

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5/24-26 I finished moving and prepared my new pad for the folks subletting.

5/26 The above took much longer than anticipated, so I had to take the ferry across the lake to get back to Minnesota in time. I forgot preaching clothes, so stopped at Macy’s and spent too much money. Between Macy’s and my folks’, I choked on water and nearly drove off the road. I had to spit the water out (all over myself and the dashboard) in order to avoid dying.

5/27 Got lost on my way to preach and arrived just as the first hymn started.

5/29-6/2Drove from Minneapolis to Seattle.

6/2 Went to a cage fight.

6/3 Got to see my best pals west of the Mississippi for the first time in a year. We went for a run. I almost died again, but it had nothing to do with choking or water. Mostly to do with hills. I also forgot my toothbrush, so they took me to Trader Joe’s of all places, where I bought a “new” one made from recycled yogurt containers.

6/4-5 Had two days of orientation for my summer internship.

6/5 Met Deb and her husband, their friend who has some really fat cats and a bunch of other crazy folks from Pennsylvania.

6/6-12 Went to Iowa for my denomination’s big annual governance/worship conference.

6/11 Marched my little seminarian butt down to the floor during a plenary session at the conference in order to defend the needs of torture victims. The body wasn’t even voting on whether or not we should join an alliance to support torture victims. The vote was to decide if we should take a year to study this. Throw me a frickin bone.

6/12 Flew back to Seattle and strongly considered taking a different summer internship in Arizona.

6/13 Had my first ‘real’ day on the job. The day started at 6:45a.m.

I am tired, but I have a million stories to tell and just as many phone calls and emails to catch up on. We’ll see what little stories and tirades I can pump out later.

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Gag. I had to re-shelf this piece o’ insanity tonight in the library. I can seriously not believe that someone actually came up with this, thought it was a good idea, and then got some company to market it.

I am particulary fond of the way they allude to missionary life being “one giant game of laughter and strategy.” Good one. I’m sure all the people I worked with during the last two years of life would completely agree. I could tell you missions life is a game of all kinds of different things, but I don’t think laughter and strategy would be the hallmark characteristics. And frankly, I wouldn’t call it a game.

Besides just being a load of crap, I think the makers of this game got their missiology off the back of a Cracker Jack box. Here’s what can happen to you while on a mission trip in Germany:

  1. You win five members of a cult to Jesus. Other members chase you to a train station. You escape. Gain 50 blessings.
  2. You lose all of your luggage and tracts because of neglect. More will have to be sent to you. Lose 25 blessings. (Because until the new tracts get there, you’ll have to actually spend time talking with people. You’ll only be able to share the message with 4 people per day as opposed to 423.)
  3. You make a better effort to learn German to be a better witness. Gain 25 blessings. (I guess all that time without tracks made you frustrated enough to decide that perhaps you should engage the culture.)

What I want to know is how come getting chased by hooligans gets you 50 blessings, but trying to learn the language only gets 25. That’s crap.

My personal favorite is when on a trip to Poland, you lose 25 blessings for smuggling in French Bibles instead of Polish ones. What kind of freakin’ idiot are you??? And what mission board lets someone that stupid go to another country?

Anyway, if you’re up for a giant game of laughter and strategy, Missionary Conquest is all yours for the low, low price of $29.99.

Just don’t ask me to play it with you.

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