The State of the Chaplain: Defective Condition



I took off the tag from my dry-cleaned garment and started getting ready for work. I had my coffee and shower and dried my hair, musing about my day and the patients that I would see. And as I reached for the final touches like my watch and a bracelet, there it was. The tag from my dry-cleaning was like a diagnosis of my inner self.

DEFECTIVE CONDITION before cleaning.


I started laughing. For it was true. Before, during and after my shower, this chaplain is most definitely in a “defective condition.” I’m grumpy, occasionally unreasonable and I hate being late. I’d rather read than cook, rather goof off than clean. And I hold some pretty strong opinions about a wide range of subject. (And my opinion is always right. Of course.)

I am so far from a saint that it’s not funny. I’m definitely no angel. And yet, when I tell people what I do for a living, those are the two most common descriptors they give me. “You’re a saint.” “You’re an angel.”

Occasionally I get it right and my “defective condition” gets temporarily glossed over, like a thick coat of lip gloss on chapped lips. But then the “real” chaplain shows up again.

There is so much that is covered in our lives that is covered by grace. By a forgiving God who lets me try again. By the gentle reminders of the Spirit that I can do better. And depending on the God who Called me to help me.

Off I go to do my chaplain thing… defective condition and all.

God’s grace more than covers. And I am so grateful.

Thanks be to God.

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