I often tell people that my work situation is ideal, that it is absolutely fantastic to be able to enjoy the benefits both of the city of Philly as well as the comforts and quiet of Belvidere. Folks readily assent to the perceived benefit of being to be able to have time in and away from both, of having a physical boundary that separates me from a half-time ministry job, making it impossible for me to overwork myself for not enough compensation.
But the honest truth is that this is only half the story. The truth is that I like being kept busy, I like doing things, and that the separation can at times feel like isolation. When I began my work, I was also taking a unit of CPE, which kept me as busy in Philly as Belvidere. And while I often joked that I “couldn’t wait to be free of CPE,” it is only a week out and I am feeling trapped in the city. Trapped by the reality that I don’t have a whole lot of friends in the Philadelphia-area, or even in Belvidere for that matter. Trapped by the reality that I don’t have much to do while my husband is at work. Trapped by the reality that I feel as though this life has in some ways been imposed upon me rather than chosen, as though I am missing out on something important: proximity to my family, close relationships with distant friends, you name it.
And while I don’t relish the pity party, it can be difficult to extricate myself once I find myself there. I find myself getting angry at my husband, jealous that in his work he is surrounded by his friends, that he feels no urgency to leave and come back to me in the way that I urgently desire him to come home–because, unlike him, he is perhaps my only close friend in this city. And to admit that makes me want to weep, because I feel guilty, as though perhaps it is my fault I don’t have more friends, as though I shouldn’t feel this way.
Ultimately, I remain confident that things will sort themselves out; they always do. But it is difficult to fine myself in the interim, to find myself unable to see the shape that the other side of this feeling might take. All I can really do is trust that God is working all things to the good, even this, and that ultimately, something new and beautiful can be wrought even in the most angsty and deepest feelings of isolation.
One thought on “Reality-Check”
hello Pastor Sarah Weisiger,
I am only an occasional visitor to Belvidere NJ presbyterian
church these days….. but my wife and I were married in your congregation by Pastor John Robertson in 1988.
I live now with my wife Stephanie Sykes Stover in Bethlehem PA.
I just found your blog entry today while contacting the church
in Belvidere trying to locate my lost coat ( and gray hat) after
attending the 2010 Palm Sunday service .
I spent five years teaching adult Sunday School in Belvidere NJ
at the Presbyterian Church. I met you briefly for the first time
on Palm Sunday 2010. I reported that I had to learn to “trust
the silence” of the people in Belvidere in order to learn to
appreciate them. For what it’s worth- I found them “worth the
effort” I hope you stick with your ministry there.
I spent 8 years of my life in Philadelphia too ( at temple U in
school and working etc) and I come originally from SE PA.
The Northeast Corridor of the USA is NOT the West Coast
Corridor. Relationships unfold more slowly than they do in the
West and the Mid west. I have been around “a bit” and I know
these differences well….. try living outside the USA and it is
even more demanding………
Arch Street Presbyterian Church in Phila has some interesting
young adults in leadership right now. Contact them and try to
visit at 1724 Arch Street down town ( right next to the
Comcast building) Dr. Keelan Downton (ecumenist in residence–yes– he actually lives there with his wife who is finishing at Princeton Seminary) would greet you and let you know what their Presbyterian leadership group is doing in downtown Philadelphia during the middle of the week when you are in Phila….
This particular reply to your March 4 blog entry is about six weeks late. You won’t regret meeting the staff at Arch St Presbyterian Church.
They are worth knowing and learning about. Philadelphia might be easier in concert with persons who have your training, background and mutual interests in Christian ministry….. the staff at Arch St Pres are committed and thoughtful Christian professionals like you and your husband.
I hope to meet and greet you again soon in Belvidere at the Presbyterian Church.
Sorry — I do not use Twitter yet. Stephanie Stover is on is on Facebook– you can also contact me/us through her page there.
We are both graduates of Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem PA.
Perhaps preparing for and trusting Easter will help remind you why we are not truly alone as Christians. It always helps me
respectfully yours In Christ
Gerald & Stephanie Stover