Church, Jesus, Transitions and Me

We’ve been in a constant state of transition since we were dating. It started in October 2014 when the attorney came out of the courtroom, on a Tuesday, to inform me that the boys would be reunified that Friday. No TDM (team decision meeting), no time to process, and no explanation. It just wasn’t bad enough, was their reason. 

Will and I got engaged two months later, then married six months after that, pregnant two weeks after-all the while being in full time  ministry, together…but separate. Our wedding was a bittersweet celebration. There was great joy and it was quite the party (to say the least). We danced and ate and worshipped, but we also invited people into a delicate side of the story-Will sang our vows “You, me and the other three” torecognize and honor that two VIPs were missing that day. We hadn’t seen them in nearly three months at that point. 

On our honeymoon, we made a last minute detour to Santa Cruz. We walked to the boardwalk and sat and cried watching the rides and mommies and daddies holding giddy, wiggly hands because we missed our little lost boys in that moment too much. 

In the midst of these moments of sheer pain and anguish, people…well intentioned people…made comments like This is time for you and Will to be married and enjoy the newlywed life, like they forgot that we still had a teen in our home and two little boys in our hearts, everywhere with us. They forgot that our newlywed life would never be a normal newlywed life because it was marked and started on a racetrack with grief. And there were moments of sheer bliss. Yes yes indeed, but man oh man was there grief, too. 

When we found out we were pregnant, there was well…first, a feeling of “wait, what..” We didn’t even think it was possible that fast! Followed by joy, followed by months of grief. Hard grief-and when times were light, times were light; like when we found out Scout was, indeed, our precious Scout, and when we got to see her dancing and making herself comfortable on the ultrasounds, and as we watched my belly grow to hold her a little longer. But in between all the bigger days, there were the normal days where tears were my food and my pillow was soaked and Will was lost at how to comfort me because I had lost a piece of me-two pieces of me were stolen, and I didn’t know if they would ever come back or not but somehow, my grief was my form of hope. The book was left open. And then we had Scout and we would laugh in the car thinking of the ways our Cubs would react to her growing, how we longed for them to meet her, to see her to know her, and gratitude and sorrow co-existed with each and every breath of each and every day. 

And, in the midst of all this, ministry. Full time ministry. And newly married, way too newly married. We felt like we were constantly lost in a break of a wave-where the white foam blinds you and you can’t feel up from down until the sand scratches your eyes or skin. We were tumbling and fighting and missing each other because I was feeling missed. My grief, that was a reality for me everyday, was a burden, a thing deeply misunderstood, a weakness, or a conversation starter for some. And my husband was caught in the middle of defending the church he loved and the wife he chose. And I was caught in the middle of feeling pushed to “put [my]self out there” by well-meaning people,and feeling called by God to hold myself back and let me feel. There was a sacred invitation in that time to hold onto the hope that only grief can offer, but, unfortunately, people didn’t know how to handle it, and I didn’t know how to express it and the two combined collided-needs weren’t met and hearts were disappointed, and all the while, I’m trying to figure out this whole “Pastor’s Wife Life” thing, and just not fitting in anywhere. 

There were so many moments of “man, I wish they knew me before the boys. I was so whole before this happened,” -have you ever felt that way? The wish that people just knew you at your prime, before the pain or the cancer or the death or trauma…if they only knew how capable and strong you once were, right? But, the truth is, when the event hits that you think will completely shatter and break you, the one that stops your heart and makes you weak…it’s the key to being human, the key to your ministry, and the key to you becoming more fully you and more fully available to sit with people in their own grief and hope breathing pattern and say, I know. And it’s ok, without the need to fix or wrap or dismiss. 

And something happened. I realized that I wasn’t alone in feeling this way, like I thought I was, and that there were people who wanted to walk with us, and a final straw came where I looked at Will and said, “I can’t. I’m done,” and he said “Okay, I get it now.” And that was the moment where we decided to stop battling each other and choose to latch hands, move forward together…finally, together…and to walk tall into the wave break, rather than letting the whitewash rule over us. We’ve stepped out, and we’ve dipped our toes in the water of transition, and learned from the times we’ve let the transition break us and other relationships, and have accepted the ways we’ve let it shape us. And we’ve taken a step back and thanked the pain for teaching us, and thanked the battle wounds for scarring us and showing us what we and others desperately need and are looking for, and have stepped into our new normal. We’ve kissed transition goodnight for the time being and have renamed it, rather, reclaimed it, for what it truly is: a moment to catch your breath before redemption, a moment to experience deep calling out-a new branch of life and learning in our relationship with God, and an opportunity to learn how to love people in their seasons of ache and wonder and confusion-when all they can see is the water and all they can feel is the scratching of the sand. 

“The way of wisdom is about more than simply obtaining new information. It is about living as part of a community where we gladly regard one another as valuable.” She Reads Truth