Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Universality of Pastoral Care

In the spring of 1998, I was deeply grounded in my atheist non-belief, but on one dark day in that time, my thoughts were not on belief in the divine or a lack thereof.

I had had my first romantic relationship, and it had come to an end. I was thoroughly in love with this girl, and she had ended our passionate love affair. I was beyond devastated, and wandered the streets of Delaware, Ohio in a numb, agonized haze.

At one point, I found myself at the office door of the University chaplain. I was not a Christian at all, but there I was. He looked at me and said "John, what's wrong?" I told him, and collapsed on his shoulder weeping. This man didn't try to convert me. He just listened to me and mourned my loss with me.

I wasn't a Christian, but I needed a pastor, and somehow, I knew it. Some embedded knowledge had seen through the pain and guided me to the chaplain. Looking back (now that I am in CPE), I don't know how I knew that this man would listen for me and care for me. But I did, and went.

At some point in our lives, we will all need a pastor. The cannot shield ourselves, outwardly or inwardly, from all of the slings and arrows that will come our way. In our broken world, pastors aren't just useful -- they're critical.


gavin richardson said...

thanks for the honest sharing john. i had never thought about it, why does a pastor become the person who one knows they can go too? i am glad that someone was there for you.

Along the Narrow Path said...

Your words are so true. I have found that pastors are great listeners and they provide comfort by just listening.

Elizabeth said...

I just drove through Delaware this week on my way home from Kentucky. Said chaplain was my academic advisor, actually. He certainly was good at just listening. The more I look back at our interactions in college, the more I admire him - he read me better than I read myself at the time!

John said...

I didn't quite get that impression of him. He badly misread me on one occasion. But on that day in the Spring of '98, he did his duty faithfully. And despite of our previous encounter, I knew that I could go to him.

the reverend mommy said...

We all need pastors -- Amen to that.

larry said...

The chaplain at OWU was a pretty good listener in my dealings with him, although I don't recall going to him often. John - what a great testimony to the prevenient grace of God!