It's Friday night, and for those of you who don't know where I am, I'm not where I would normally be. I'm in a hotel room in Little Rock by myself, which is pretty unusual. Why am I here? Individual Critical Incident Stress Management Training, that's why. What does that mean? I can only answer that question halfway, because I'm only half done. Hence, spending the night so that I can get back to it first thing in the morning.
However, I'm not going to write that much about the training. Why? Well, I'm not a certified instructor and I wouldn't want to steer you wrong. I will say this: if you are involved in chaplaincy or ministry, this would be worth your time to learn. I would also suggest it to those who minister to people like funeral directors or to pastors, because there's a strong probability that you can put these skills to good use. (By the way, under chaplaincy, consider: Military, police, fire, hospital, disaster relief, correctional facility, hospital, and corporate.)
Instead, I'm reflecting a little bit about being at the training. I got here, got signed in for class, and then found myself a pew. (While I would prefer a classroom setting, it's alright.) Then I see that one of the other pastors from Monticello is there. He also works with Hospice as a chaplain, so I'm not at all surprised to see him. A few minutes later, though, and I had my first surprise. In walked a man I haven't seen in 13 years. To sum up, 13 years ago I was going to marry his sister-in-law, but she backed out, and I haven't seen any of the family since.
What was odd to me is that he hasn't hardly changed. At least, he didn't seem like it to me. He's changed careers since then, and is now the pastor of a church in Jacksonville. He's maybe a little more serious, but he always was pretty serious. I'm not surprised to find him in the ministry.
Then lunch brought the second surprise. I'm walking through a school cafeteria line (the hosting church has a school attached, so the lunch was being served through the same line) and hear my name called out. Now, one thing that has happened since I've been back in Arkansas is that I manage to encounter people that know my name and face that I don't know.
Not this time. It was my math teacher from high school. She's recently retired and is training to be a community chaplain with her local police department. It was good to see her again. She seemed to have aged some since I was in high school, but in a graceful way. Well, in the way someone that loses their spouse after a long illness would. Not older, more like sadder, like a piece is missing that won't be coming back. She knows where I am and what I'm doing, since we're connected on Facebook. She introduced me to the other people she was eating lunch with, and pointed out that I was a pastor and that she had known that was coming for a long time. Longer, in fact, than I had.
My point in these stories? A few things:
Don't burn bridges. The people that have been around in your life will be back again. They may need you, you may need them, or you both might just enjoy the encounter. Any of the three should be a reminder: people are much more valuable than we treat them. Don't treat people like things that can be used. People also remember things far longer than you expect.
Don't neglect the wisdom others can bring to your own life. If you need to know some things about yourself, go to the people that know you. Now, make sure you actually can trust these people, but be willing to listen to them. You remain responsible for what you do with the information, but realize that others have much to offer in terms of understanding yourself.
Don't fail to help those who come to you for guidance. While you do not want to take responsibility away from people about their own life, you bear the responsibility if you are asked for help and won't give it. If you're able to see something in others that can help them, try and do it.
Well, that's my thoughts tonight. I'm going to crash out so that I can be ready to tackle tomorrow!