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Rudy’s Crisis of Character

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Does your crisis need introspection or extrospection?

Rudy (not his real name) (his real name was Samuel) was pastor of a small church in rural Wisconsin. A lot of people looked up to Rudy. It’s easy to imagine the pressure to be an example in such a community. Some/much of that pressure was self-inflicted.

Rudy’s son had a drug problem. When the problem came to light—in a very public way—Rudy blamed himself. He took a break from his pastoring job and pulled his trailer out into the woods where he was going to pray and read the Bible and think about where he had gone wrong and generally plead with God. He was in good company on this—lots of people in the Bible pursued these pleading communication events when crises hit. A few days alone, or alone with God, may answer the “What next?” and “Where did I go wrong” questions.

I’ve thought about Rudy’s instinct over the years. I grew up in a tradition where sorting things out on your own was expected. “Whatever you need to do to straighten up and fly right, well, get on with it” was the general sense of how things ought to progress. That was Rudy’s primary methodology.

Yesterday I had a delightful chat with a local philosopher. We got on the subject of what happens when we encounter the Other. What is our responsibility for the people with whom we come in contact and when does that responsibility kick-in? How can we be mutually for the people in our lives—and maybe for the people on the fringes of our lives? It turns out that one way is through our conversation. Even the casual conversations—just in passing—can have a deeply cathartic effect at times when people say what is really going on. I cannot help but wonder if Rudy’s instinct might have benefitted from time alone followed by a long walk with two or three childhood friends to help him sort the flotsam from the jetsam. Followed by weeks of conversation with his wife, Carol (not her real name) (her real name was Gertie). Followed by lots and lots more honest talk—especially with his son.

Because when we speak with each other—sometimes we say (and hear) the things God would say to us.

Speaking of Rudy (not his real name) (his real name was Ebenezer). Everything turned out ok: Rudy eventually left his pastor job and he became an exemplary truck driver and was chock full of wisdom for the people on his route. And the son’s drug problem grew until it stopped abruptly when teen angst gave way to career and age and the need to pay attention to life.

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Image credit: Roland Topor via 2headedsnake

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Written by kirkistan

November 16, 2012 at 10:17 am

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