This morning, I went out to do some errands: the post office and the grocery store. This is typical Friday fare for me. When I’m not on medical leave, Fridays are my day off, and I usually spend the morning grocery shopping and whatever else is necessary that week. I’ve stayed in the Friday errand practice throughout my time off, just because that’s our family habit.
But today, something was different. I ran into two parishioners while out today, and I was absolutely delighted to talk with them. That is not normal for me. When I am out and about, normally I hate running into people I know. I would sometimes try to avoid eye contact, or even slip into another aisle if I saw someone out of the corner of my eye. I considered going to the grocery store at 6 in the morning, or traveling out of the area, just to avoid seeing people I knew. I used to think that it was a work-home boundary thing…I used to think that I hated seeing people I knew while I was shopping on my day off, because virtually all people I know around here are people I know through my job. In my mind, I can’t be truly “off” I hear somebody call me “pastor” in the cereal aisle.
But I also know that it’s not really about this boundary issue, especially because this feeling has continued into this medical leave. Up until today, I was not particularly pleased to see people I know when I was around town. Even though they were completely friendly. Even though they were genuinely concerned about me, and not looking for anything else. It didn’t matter, because that’s not what it was about…it was really about me feeling like crap, and not wanting to talk to people, to anybody. In fact, this reminds me of the time I gave a hairdresser a really large tip, solely because she was quiet during the haircut. She didn’t engage in small talk or tell me stories or anything…I was so relieved to not have to have any personal interaction with her, that I paid her extra. I don’t think I even told her the reason for the big tip…because that would have been interaction. So it really isn’t about “pastors” and “parishioners”; it’s about me just not wanting to talk with anybody. When I’m depressed, it takes so much energy to talk with somebody. This is why I so often prefer email or texts to phone calls. It doesn’t take nearly as much energy to type to people as it does to talk to them.
But today, I ran into two people, one at the post office and one at the grocery store. First off, I must say that these two people are friendly and kind. These are not the sort of people who are hard to talk to! Only a crazy person would fear them! (See what I did there?) Truly, on any other day, it would have bothered me to have to communicate with them. But today, today, o blessed glorious day, today I was delighted. It’s really the best word I can think of. Both conversations were delightful. I was so happy to talk with them and catch up.
I don’t know why that is. But I think it means I’m getting better. I know it means there’s hope.