Dear Pastors,

Oh my goodness, my heart is with you all today. You’ve already been through Holy Week and celebrated the resurrection in Pandemic. But Christmas, too?!? Doesn’t seem fair. Isn’t fair.

I don’t know about you all–but being a fellow person in the helping profession the last nine months has challenged me, stretched me, grown me, strained me. So many of the “rules” no longer fit or work. The veil between us and those we serve grows ever thinner. The pain those we serve live in is the exact same pain we live in. The coping strategies and fix-it solutions we’re good at offering aren’t as helpful, useful, or available in these times. Not to mention the reality that most of us are dangling onto the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Triangle. So depth work is not only out of reach for most–it could be down right dangerous if other basic needs and needs for stability or safety aren’t met. You carry all of this going into the Christmas Eve service tonight.

I imagine you, too, are having all the feels as you prepare to be livestreamed and/or masked before a community that also has all the feels–and very well may be projecting their God-images upon you. That my dear pastor friends is A LOT!

So my Christmas Wish and present for you is to give yourselves permission to be Good Enough.

What’s Good Enough?

The concept of good enough actually comes from pediatrician and psychotherapist, D.W, Winnicott, who encouraged the idea of the good enough mother. He observed that A mother is neither good nor bad nor the product of illusion, but is a separate and independent entity…Her failure to adapt to every need of the child helps them adapt to external realities. That’s right…what a relief for all of us parents (and pastors)! Better yet, attachment research today observes that good enough parenting occurs more in how we are in our important relationships–our ability to catch ourselves being out of sync and then repairing rather than in saying or doing the perfect thing. It’s kinda like meditation…it isn’t having the perfect breath and mind focus–it’s noticing when it’s off and coming back. So it is with good enough parenting. Just coming back and being present. Being with.

I think the same holds true for pastors and congregants. Applying this theory to pastoring–and counseling for that matter–good enough pastoring is about being present. I know you’ve read this stuff before. Heard it talked about in seminary, etc. But I know that if you’re like me in 2020 sometimes that might not feel like enough. Or with a night like Christmas Eve where the expectations and traditions are many, rather than listening to the critics without and within, I’d like to give you permission to be good enough. To show up and be present and simply be with us. To honor that there’s no way around the grief of how different this night will be and to welcome it to worship. And to give us your presence as you proclaim the Good News of Christmas–that God is with us. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

May you sense and see Emmanuel today and each day forward.