This has been a week of mixed blessings. Sometimes I feel that if I shut my eyes tight enough and then open them again slowly I will look at a life that seems more familiar to me. Not that my life has been anything but strange and kind of "made for a tv movie-ish"...at least in the past 12 or so years. Sometimes I don't feel as if I recognize myself, at all. Where did that quirky, spunky and kind of dreamy girl go? What I have discovered, however, in my trials and traverses is that God is still in control...despite me. This week has started out like many others. We are still wandering around an unfamiliar country. Occasionally, we see some sort of tree or rock or brook that seems familiar, but at closer look it is only a facsimile of something we once knew....So we wander on. My husband and I have been on a self-imposed furlough from something that was once so much part of us that not an hour went by without some sort of reminder of the life we had chosen or was chosen for us. It is very easy for those in full-time ministry to lose themselves in projects, people and causes. Suddenly (or not so suddenly) those projects, people and causes take the place of a deep and personal relationship with the Savior. What happens when those things are stripped away? What is left. If you were given a chance to start over again what would it be that you take with you from your former life? Those are some questions we've had to ask ourselves. And sometimes the answers aren't attractive or even very hopeful. What I have found is that the church world at large is not very forgiving to those who "should know better." After all, we used to be one of those who would plead from the pulpit for participation in our pet projects. We would cajole and persaude ....after all, if folks weren't going with the program they probably had some "issues." We have not shown mercy when it was mercy that would have made the difference. We have not shown hope when it was hope that would have made the difference. We have not followed after that one. When the pursuit would have made the difference. If we could start over again we would know that it's more about the person sitting in the pew than it is my opinion of what they should become. It is more about being that "hand extended" than it is about the Easter choir runs without a hitch or the children's carnival has plenty of workers. Sometimes it's someone like me...who should "know better"...that needs that hand. Someone who is just trying to find their way in an unfamiliar country.
I realize I have been fairly cryptic in my thoughts tonight. I wish, I wish, I wish I could reach out to those like me and some others that I know. Those who have spent their lives serving and found themselves maybe a little burnt out or a little hurt. In our case we were waylaid by the unexpected. Our lives had to change for a while and we realized that we weren't very well suited for those changes. It's tough enough when a young couple faces what we have in our marriage...infertility, chronic illness and traumatic injury. Troy has spent the past 12 of our 17 years supporting me through one health crisis after another....And not once did we stop our work. Not once did we postpone a candlelight caroling, or mother's day tea. Not once did we set another date for a revival or potluck dinner. We fed the hungry and clothed the naked. We mourned with the widow and cried with a grieving parent. So what was left when it stopped for a time. A family that needed to find themselves again...A family that needed to heal...And a family that needed God's mercy as much as anybody.
We still haven't found our way out of this "undiscovered country" (and yes, I am a trekkie). Not because of choice. There are many days I cry out "Lord, just point me in a direction!" And He reminds that just because He is preparing me for something (not quite sure what it is yet) doesn't mean that I am excused from those things He has commanded all of us to do. To show kindness and mercy to those around me....to tell others about His grace and love...to grieve and rejoice with the hurting and the hopeful alike. He wants more time with me...He wants me to forget my "to do" list and He just wants me. If I could start over again. That's would I would do.