This afternoon I returned from a consistory retreat, at the tail end of which I was having a panic attack. The internal dialogue went something like this:
CRAZY PANICKED STACEY: "Oh my God, I won't be home until almost 3pm and I have two sermons to write and an order of worship to plan and I haven't even started and I have no idea what I'm going to say or what songs we should sing and I have NOTHING to say about the parable of the talents and how am I going to write two sermons about a passage when I don't have any thoughts about it at all? Why didn't I start writing sooner? Why don't I ever start writing sooner? I am an idiot and I'm going to look like a complete fool up there tomorrow and these people are going to wish they had never called me to be their pastor and oh, good grief, I'm about to cry, and I can't cry with all of these people here, but what am I going to do?!?!?!"
CENTERED DIGNIFIED STACEY: "I wrote the bulk of these sermons on Wednesday night. This will be fine. Sermons have been written in less time than this. I have written sermons in less time than this. I spent the last day talking about using our gifts wisely, so I have plenty to say about the parable of the talents. I am not an idiot, this will be fine, and I am not going to cry, because nothing is wrong. Nor am I going to panic...Hey! Stop panicking! I'm serious, knock it off. They're waiting for you to take the group picture."
CRAZY PANICKED STACEY: "I don't CARE if I wrote on Wednesday night; this is Saturday and everything I wrote is CRAP and I don't CARE if I've written sermons in less time than this, because maybe tonight will be the night I get terrible writer's block and can't write a single word and THEN where will I be??? And I don't WANT to be in a stupid group picture because I didn't sleep well and I didn't shower and my hair is greasy and my face is broken out like a 15-year-old's because I'm under SO MUCH FREAKING STRESS!!!!!! I NEED A DAY OFF AND I NEED IT NOW!!!!!!!!"
CENTERED DIGNIFIED STACEY: "Um, I am being completely irrational. I know the sermons will be fine. Worst case scenario, they won't be great. Oh well. And yes, my face is broken out like a 15-year-old's, and yes, I am under a bit of stress, and yes, I need a day off. But that day is not today, and that is okay."
CRAZY PANICKED STACEY: "But I'm TIRED and I want to go HOME!!!!!!"
CENTERED DIGNIFIED STACEY: "I AM going home. Now shut up and offer to take the picture so I don't have to be in it with my greasy hair and broken-out face."
So, I managed not to cry, although quelling the panic was a bit tricky, and I was extremely snarky about having my picture taken. Then I arrived at home, still hovering on the verge of the panic abyss. Took the wonderdog for a run, came back, and started to write at about 3:30pm, the massive knot of anxiety growing larger by the second.
At 8:30pm, both sermons and the order of worship were finished. Note that on Saturdays with no other obligations, I'm usually wrapping up these things around midnight - on a good day.
Sometimes I get the strong sense that God is bouncing me around on a string like one of those paddle ball things, just trying to see how far I'll stretch...