I have for some time dreaded putting on the uniform. The black and whites. The collar. The physical sign of the Office of Preaching which the Church has recognized for millenia.
I dreaded it because it reminded me of my failures. I dreaded it because of the burden that it represented. All those sins. All those messed up lives of my flock. All of the things that I couldn’t do even if I wanted to do so. I hated wearing it. I would avoid it. I can sympathize with pastors who want to wear ties or polos or clown suits or whatever. It makes the burden of the Office seem less real, more light hearted or business like. Simpler.
This is a trial that any pastor who takes his Call seriously probably undergoes to some degree or another. But depression puts this under a microscope, so that you look at every failure, every disappointed look or unfulfilled promise, as simply one more bit of proof that you are not worthy to exist, that God doesn’t love you, and that nothing really matters anyway. This is why I would argue that while depression is a bio-chemical imbalance or situational in nature, that there is almost inevitably a spiritual element involved. It is hand made for Satan to use to lure us away from the sure promises of the Gospel and into ourselves.
I’ve started wearing my collar again. Maybe it’s a sign of healing. Maybe it’s a sign of understanding on my part. The collar tells me first that A) it’s not my office but Chirst’s), B) I am not alone in anything that I do, and C) That all I have to give is what God has given me to give.
Maybe this isn’t any great revelation for you. It’s something that I learned in seminary from the first time I questioned it. But I am slowing coming back to seeing wearing the collar not as a matter of slavery but liberation. It frees me to have my own problems, wants, desires, and emotions. But it also frees me to give to my sheep what they need, whether I feel like giving it or not.