Posted by: Shawn Ragan | August 31, 2008

A Good Time

My middle son and I went to a Boise State football game tonight.  BSU won 49-7, so we were happy about that.  I began classes at BSU this last week to finish my B.A. in History.  As a full-time student, I get a free football ticket and a discounted ticket for a guest.  We went tonight and had a great time cheering on the Broncos.

I am making a point to take the kids to activities at BSU when I can.  First, they’re usually free – which is good right now (a few weeks ago we saw the new Indiana Jones movie on campus for free).  It also gives us a chance to do and see some things we wouldn’t normally do or see (as I take my kids to BSU football this season, it will be the first college game for all of them).

Starting classes this week was worrisome for me to begin with.  Part of my transition out of the pastorate was to spend more time with my family – to actually be with them.  I worried how school would impact that.  Happily, though, my schedule this semester really doesn’t imact it much.  Two evenings a week I am gone until their bedtime, and that is hard.  The other evenings, and our weekends, are really good.

My son and I were talking on the way home from the game about how we had done more things together these last couple months than we have done the last year before that.  The quality of our time together has been so much better.  The kids think its cool to have a dad in school too – we can do homework together 🙂

In my last couple months pastoring I often worried about what it would be like to be home – and truly be home.  As I recall, I even blogged about it.  So much of my time and life was consumed by pastoring that even when I was home I was not really home, and I always had an excuse to disconnect from my children.  That sounds horrible to say, but it was true.  The thought that I would have to engage my children and family wholly was frightening to some degree.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always wanted to be with my family.  My wife and my kids have been in many ways my life.  I didn’t want to not be fully connected, I had just gotten used to not being fully connected.  My pastoral responsibilities, and the requirements and demands they had made on my life, over time, became the habit or pattern.  My kids continued to grow up, but a new paradigm had taken place.  As I have said before, that paradigm included the fact that even when I was home, I was not really home.  Except for a few minor instances, part of me was always at the church.

Even though these chains were not something I desired, I had grown accutomed to having them on.  The idea that they would not be there anymore was a frightening one.  It would require that I would have to engage fully – something I wanted, but something I was also somewhat afraid of.

I thought about that tonight on my way home from the game.  Praise the Lord for His mercy and grace!  You know, tonight was the first time I had even really thought about that in a while.  As I consider the whole thing, once I left the pastorate and engaged my family, there has been no turning back ~ none of the fear I worried about.  Except for recollections like these, I haven’t even thought about it.

For the last couple motnhs we have been able to do may things together ~ from just sitting around visiting, to rock climbing, to BSU football games.  We have gone swimming several times, and I have helped my ten year old learn to dive and do crazy jumps off the high-dive.  I am a volunteer football coach for his team.  My daughter is learning to ride her bike.

I have taught my boys how to do an oil change on our vans (in three months they are doing it themselves, under my watchful eye).

They have helped with all sorts of things on the cars, changing the brake pads and replacing a rotor, and, pictured below, changing a starter.

Before, I probably would not have had the patience to spend time with them like this.  I did some of these things to save on money, but I often felt rushed.  That feeling didn’t allow me time to work with the kids as much as I would have liked.

My journey into Orthodoxy has helped me see many of these things.  There are people I get a chance to visit with about our journey, and about the Apostolic Orthodox Christian Faith, but I always walk away from those conversations knowing I have shortchanged this beautiful and ancient faith by miles.  I feel like I am talking to someone about a beautiful painting.  What words can describe it?

Even here, in the ideas of living in the present moment – stuff I heard about intellectually from reading Metropolitan Anthony Bloom’s “Beginning to Pray” but have begun to experience and know in my heart as we have journeyed.  Even now, words do not describe, nor can they describe what I am trying to say ~ even here where I am talking about the time I have spent with my family these last couple months.

My impulse is to try to keep giving information – more examples of the depth and beauty of the Orthodox Christian Faith – more ways that our life has been impacted by this journey.

I will go against my impulses, though.  For no words of mine can truly describe this Faith, one must “come and see.”  One must wrestle and struggle with the Truth of Orthodoxy in their own journey.

I will suffice it to say, for this blog, we went to a game tonight, and we had a good time.

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Responses

  1. It is indeed amazing that there is a full and complete life outside of ministry. It is kind of ironic that it takes becoming an ex-minister to see the pitfalls of ministry even though our intentions and efforts were to keep our family as a priority. Your kids are blessed to have you home.


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