Sometimes, it doesn’t work

We preach dignity. We stake our deep belief on the fact that Jesus names and claims every one of us a beloved child of God. We live out our call to love our neighbor as ourselves in a million big and little ways day in and day out in our work. Most of the time, we see fruit. We see the beginnings of healing and trust and growth. These are the stories that are easy to share. The stories that make this work make sense. The stories that fuel my passion. But sometimes, sometimes the brokenness is so deep and so fierce that no amount of seeing or empathizing or listening will scratch the surface. These are the times when this work brings me to my knees and wracks my body with deep sobs because I know that what I have to offer will never be enough.

Oppressive systems have taken the very spirit from these beloveds. Poverty, mental illness, physical pain, racism, homophobia, addiction, childhood trauma- all of it tossed in a cauldron and held to the fire of daily life. It simmers and stews and melds together and just like a pot that begins to boil over, all that brokenness spills over and burns those in its path. If only I were made of teflon, so the brokenness would slide off rather than stick and burn. But it does stick and the burns leave a mark.

There is no pretty way to tell these stories, to see the plus side, to find the positive. We can hold the space, we can continue to try, we can love, we can pray- but sometimes the most loving thing we can do is say no. And create boundaries and make choices that feel counter intuitive to what we believe, but that remind us that sometimes the mending isn’t ours to do. – Pastor Erica

Published by parkinglotpastors

Pastors Erica Koser and Collette Broady Grund live and work in Mankato, Minnesota. In 2017, the birthed Connections Ministry, an ecumenical organization which operates a seasonal homeless shelter. On Easter 2021, they launched Shelter Church, a new worshipping community of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) which meets outdoors around a free community meal every Sunday evening.

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