Pastoral Care and Connections 9/20/21

Volunteer needed  Our love and prayers are with Cicely Moultrie and her husband as they expect a new arrival on Oct. 11. While she is on parental leave, here at First Unitarian, we still need one more volunteer to help work on the church calendar and scheduling. It takes 2-5 hours per week and can be done from home. Please get in touch with Cicely at cmoultrie@first-unitarian-pgh.org.

Pastoral care message

I was in high school when I received an important life lesson from a patient and kind teacher. I was having a good cry in the school stairwell, and the teacher had been listening to my list of painful life events. All the events were very real and really too much for any adolescent to handle, so having her help carry my load truly eased my suffering.

As I dried my tears, she gave me this bit of crucial advice: Do not put all your problems on one platter; it is too much weight for one person to carry. Keep your problems separate, deal with them one at a time. It is much easier that way. And if you can’t deal with one, then just lay it down for a little while, and come back to it when you’re stronger and your head is clear. Then move on to the next problem.

Her simple guidance has stuck with me as I have faced other painful, difficult, and challenging experiences that life has placed in my path. I’ve honestly tried to keep my challenges separate, but it is easy and a natural human inclination to list our lamentations; it’s what Job did in the Book of Job in the Hebrew Scriptures, and so many other fellow suffering souls in human history. We all do it now and then.

Creating a list of suffering gets us revved up, providing weight and justification for our pain. Each item becomes greater evidence against the universe or God and our cry that we do not deserve such suffering (Job still stands as the ultimate crier of injustice against God). For some, the list can be a point of competition, demonstrating the depth of our pain over someone else’s pain. These are no-win scenarios. Job didn’t win, neither will we.

When we pile our problems, challenges, and pain all on one platter, we are only adding to our suffering, increasing our anxiety, and decreasing our capacity to cope. Like trying to pick up a tractor without help, we can do more damage to ourselves by attempting such an unnecessary feat. I passed on my high school teacher’s advice (her name was Connie), with my encouragement to face one problem at a time. If you cannot do anything to change it, put it aside, breathe, and turn toward the next one.

With love, Rev. Kate

Pastoral connections Melody Platz is asking for your positive thoughts as she was recently diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. She will know more about her treatment options in the coming weeks. Until she has more answers, she and her husband, AK, are taking it one day at a time. Good energy and gentle humor would be appreciated.