If the dictionary published pictures with its definitions, you’d see Patti Meyer’s face beside the word resilient.
Rev. Meyer serves as pastor at Salem Lutheran Church in Nebraska, is a mother and grandmother, and has an adult son who lives with her while she helps raise two teenage granddaughters.
As other pastors well know, people in the community and the church are polarized by the pandemic and politics. They disagree about what steps to take to curb spread, what Covid even means, and how we should protect ourselves. She hates how simple decisions (like masks, indoor worship, music, communion, etc) are dividing people. Not to mention how political views influence people’s opinions.
For Meyer, a safe anchor through the storm of pandemic and politics are the simple ways we gather together to worship. When the church was closed for services, Meyer started worshipping on the patio of the parsonage and people showed up to join her. They brought chairs, sat in the yard, and even brought their own communion so they could be community together. Now, Meyer offers Saturday and Sunday services in person and Facebook Live options. Those simple porch services remind her, however, that despite all our disagreements, people still want to be church together.
When I asked her how she avoids burnout and finds the strength to meet the challenges of each day, she laughed and admitted some days are hard. “I have to change the language in my head and change the voices that tell me I’m not good enough,” Meyer said. “The voices that say I’m not smart enough, I’m not attractive enough. I’m not enough. Changing those voices doesn’t happen overnight.” Instead, she says, “remember the new voices and repeat them.”
Meyer is realistic about her situation. With her family obligations, a long vacation isn’t possible right now, but getting away for a couple hours is. What she does do is take moments when she needs them.
Meyer told me she finds resilience in the resources she does have. Things like:
· daily affirmation books
· songs and music
· meeting with a spiritual director
· a counselor
· surrounding herself with friends who are honest and genuine. Friends who can hear “I’m so frustrated I could cry right now” and offer support.
She says, “In all this I learn that I’m not the only one. There’s trouble everywhere, and I can return the grace and listen to others.”
Reflecting on our exemplar meeting with Tod Bolsinger last month, Meyer resonated with the idea “we need to get out of ourselves, and I need to be whole heartedly invested. My resilience decreases when I’m half-hearted. I have more stress then.”
Choosing to invest in ministry and life whole heartedly, in the face of fatigue, obstacles, and a pandemic that everybody is so tired of, is indeed a sign of resilience. So, check the dictionary definition of resilience, and you just might see Patti’s Meyer’s picture.