November 30, 2006

Lousy Worry

Sometimes, being a pastor is like having a career in which you earn your paycheck by worrying. There are the big worries, like genocide in Darfur, or the war in Iraq; and there are the smaller worries, like whether anyone will come to the Christmas festival, or if you've accidentally offended a church member again.

Sometimes I don't know whether I should focus on the big worries or the little worries. Sometimes the little worries are big in their own way. Is a Christmas festival really that important when people are dying by the thousands? Then again, how concerned should I be about people half a world away when there are needs to be met right here in the community?

Some days, I find myself stuck worrying about what to worry about.

Then there are the worries that interrupt the other worries ... like when you discover that your youngest son has head lice.

Fortunately for me, this discovery came on the same day that a discussion on head lice was featured on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. I listened to it twice. It mentioned tips and suggestions for parents and schools by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It also reassured me that an infestation of head lice has nothing to do with poor hygiene. I needed that reassurance; like every good parent I know, I'm insecure about my parenting. The specialist interviewed said that head lice, because they are spread by direct head-to-head contact, is a sign that your child is sociable and has close friends. I liked hearing that, too, since the son in question is our little five year-old prodigy who was recently moved up a grade despite concerns regarding his social readiness.

I went to the store and got the necessary shampoo treatment. I came home, but before washing my son's hair, I got online and found an article on head lice from Pediatrics, the official journal of the A.A.P. I printed excerpts from that article to take to my son's school, a brand new school that doesn't yet have a policy on head lice (despite the current infestation there). Then I shampooed his hair, applied the special treatment, let it sit for ten minutes, rinsed it out, and spent the next 90 minutes picking through his hair with a fine-toothed comb.

You know, it's kinda nice to have a worry that I can actually do something about. When it comes to Darfur or Iraq, it seems the best I can do is to try and get other people to start worrying. That has some value, I suppose. Chances are, though, that just as many people will die tomorrow as died today.

At home, though, I can now assert that my son's head is lice-free. His hair is probably the cleanest in the county. For the next week or two, it will need to be checked repeatedly, to make sure any nits I may have missed with the comb haven't hatched, re-infesting him. Then I'll be able to completely cast that worry aside.

I wish all worries and problems could be tackled so easily. A temptation of pastors (including me) is to think that we can solve all problems; that we can, in fact, save the world. Then, when we fail, we become discouraged and depressed. I am not Jesus, I need to remind myself. I cannot save the world on my own. Head lice – OK, I can handle that. But for most everything else, I need to let Jesus help carry that load.


Pastor Bob Cornwall said...


Do I remember the lice bit. Oh, my, what an ordeal. And yes, they do slip through! It was horrible, but we survived!!!

Reverend Ref + said...

Head lice ... oh man. I do not care to live through that again. Actually, I'd prefer Jesus to take that one.

Hope you get it taken care of on the first go 'round.