Well, I’m disappointed that I have already missed my goal of at least one post per week.  A little illness and a trip out of town are the culprits.  The wonderful thing is that there is, as is most often the case, a chance to begin again.  I find this heartening, as I know I will disappoint myself and others regularly.

Being able to live with disappointing oneself and others is perhaps one of the hardest things for ministers to learn.  It’s hard for anyone to learn, I suppose, but it really is impossible to survive in ministry if one doesn’t eventually get it.  The wonderful thing about being “the new minister” is that I haven’t yet had time to disappoint that many people.  However, I know that if I hang around long enough, I will.

Disappointment can come for many reasons.  Someone may want me to do something that is out of my abilities (burst into song during a sermon would fall into this category).   Someone may want me to do something I won’t either because I don’t believe in it or because I don’t believe it to be in the best interest of the congregation (I hesitate to give examples here and thereby give anyone ideas.  Use your imagination!)  Other times, I will disappoint someone simply because I am human.

Whenever I leave a congregation, as I have 3 times in the last 4 years, I include in my final sermon my apologies for the disappointments of my time there.  Now that I am hoping to stay put for awhile, I wonder if I should offer my apologies upfront.  Do not think here that I am being hard on myself.  I am being realistic.  Human relationships inevitability include disappointment.

My hope is that when we disappoint each other we will stay in relationship.  That we will hang in there for the opportunity to understand, to forgive, and sometimes, to agree to disagree.  If we hold out for only perfect relationships, we unnecessarily enlarge our disappointment to a cosmic level.  Life itself will be a disappointment.  If we can accept imperfections, and allow ourselves and others to begin again, then our disappointments can be momentary, and it will instead be the possibilities of our relationships that are enlarged.

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6 Responses to Disappointment

  1. rob says:

    I find it difficult that one would be disappointed in something you did/did not do and choose to end the relationship. You are too special.

  2. Ken Lofgren says:

    I bet Joseph was disappointed that he couldn’t get a better room for Mary… but it worked out okay in the end!

  3. Pax says:

    Hey Reverend Kathy!!

    “Now that I am hoping to stay put for awhile, I wonder if I should offer my apologies upfront. Do not think here that I am being hard on myself. I am being realistic. Human relationships inevitability include disappointment.”

    Why apologize for being human?

    Rather look at the musings here as the beginning of a conversation with the congregation, maybe even the seeds of a Sermon (or Sermons) on our shared humanity and being in Covenant within a Congregation… it is a unique relationship and like a marriage take effort and time and understanding and sometimes work and patience from the parties involved.

    Heck, it seems to me that Unitarian Universalist’s, as we work to live out and within our Principles, when in a Covenant/Congregational relationship…. that ideally each member of the Congregation should work to …co-minister to/with the Minister… isn’t that part of what our many committees and the Congregational leadership model is, in part, about?


    • revkathys says:

      Actually, I wonder if there might be a sermon on the different things we can mean by apologize. I didn’t mean to suggest that I wanted to apologize for being human. I meant to acknowledge that, in my humanness, I know I will at times hurt people I care about. The attitude of apology to me means that I care about the pain my action cause, even when it is unintentionally and unavoidable. From a Buddhist perspective, I could say, I want to find the Middle Path between not caring and being overwhelmed by caring.

  4. Pax says:

    Admittedly another good sermon topic… or blog post topic… of course I am now contemplating my reaction to, and original (in terms of this particular exchange) interpretation of, apology… hmmm
    (wanders off to sleep and contemplate and journal and/or blog muttering to himself) “mutter mutter, darn sneaky Ministers, making us think about stuff…mutter, mutter” 🙂

  5. Relationship, almost by definition, means sticking through disappointment in order to understand how to support and lift each other up.

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