Swish, swish, swish echoing from the baby monitor…clink, clink, clink rattle from the dog collar as she runs around trying to find her place for the night…patter, patter, patter or perhaps thud, thud clambering in the halls from the much larger dog as she finds trouble before bed…click, click, click the sound of my own fingers on this computer…these are the sounds of my night, lulling me to sleep and yet tonight’s lullaby is clouded by the doom of the night to come. This is just the calm before the storm. Tonight, as many of the past nights this year I am holding down the fort a lone. The three-year old has a burning fever and the baby is teething at some point they will both be up. I’m not sure if I’m hoping they are up at the same time or praying that they aren’t. Either way I love sleep and I know tonight I won’t be getting any. I just truly pray there is no throwing up!
Even if they weren’t sick or teething children, the truth is there would be no lullaby for me tonight. My mind is racing and my body is tense. I’m as a line in a movie about stealing something with some really well known people (you know the one right?) I’m fine (freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional). Although you could probably replace the “I” with insane. You see, for the last 2+ years I’ve been dealing with the fall out of a church break up. They say some of the worse stressors in life are losing your job, up there on the list is divorce: try resigning from a church (it is like both)! You see, no matter what the circumstances of this break up was, like any good divorce lines get blurred. And in the end many people get hurt. Like any good divorce it takes a while to get back on your feet and truly “move on.” For me the factors that continue to play out aren’t because I wish it had ended differently or I want the job back, the factors that continue to play out do so because I don’t want it to happen again or to happen to others. You see churches have patterns of cycling through clergy because they are pretty messed up, like unwanted step children or infants who weren’t hugged enough. Churches all have their own issues and if we as clergy can’t help them then we aren’t going to see any positive change to the decline in our numbers. I just want these cycles to stop. And yet they seem to be just getting worse.
At the end of this break up – came the decision to stay on at 40% time at one of the churches we served. At the end of this came the decision to trust God that we weren’t meant to leave all we had begun to accomplish there and go someplace new. At the end of this came the choice to rebuild a house from the turn of the century and to spend all of our money believing that we were following God’s will.
And so I sit tonight in the still silence of swish, clink, swish, thud, swish, click, swish, swish trying with every part of me to trust God. To do as I preach, to do as I teach and to believe that we did not just make giant fools of ourselves by not applying elsewhere; to trust that although there are people slandering our names that the rumors fall on deaf or at least more consciences ears. And yet the cloud of doom hangs low and wide. Soon we will not be owners of our house in the city but instead an old farm house that is currently only 2/3 sided and is missing a window. Already we are trying to subsist on less than twenty thousand a year with gas alone at almost 4 dollars a gallon. Already we are trying to raise a family and to meet the needs of our children without daycare and while trying to juggle our job and rebuilding of a house. We are living on the brink of discouragement, anger and shame. We are living with guilt and worries. We are living on the brink of failure and yet trying to live in the hope of our God.
A God who when we needed one window for our upstairs bathroom brought us to Lowes to find an unmarked window in the right dimensions on clearance for 34 dollars! Because God is good.
A God who has blessed us with family who can help with these rebuilding so we don’t have to pay others and our resources can go to material.
A God who in the midst of our material hunt provided us with a range fan and 2 faucets all brand new in boxes, never installed for 25 dollars.
A God who blessed us with a house to fall back into when we needed a place to live.
A God who way back when, encouraged us to get a car with good gas miles! Go Corollas!
Some, especially those who struggle with faith, might find reasons for all the above and all other examples I could give. One might say that doesn’t really prove God’s on your side. It doesn’t prove you are doing the right thing – none of that. And I could say you are right. Those alone don’t really prove that God is on our side…but they do prove that we are in God’s plan and on God’s side. You see, to me, these all prove that we are doing something right.
The Bible isn’t like fairy tales were everything is happy or ends happily ever after, instead it is about real and true encounters with the Holy in our lives. My story – my gospel if you will – would not be one without suspense, this being one of those moments. And believe me, the suspense is killing me, it is so thick I could carve it for Halloween. But it is just a moment. A moment that years from now will look like a transition and I’m sure will be just part of the past. But until then, I must invite God into the cloud, to calm the storm and provide me peace – in at least knowing that indeed I’m following the Creator’s plan. And that tomorrow my lullaby will be wrought with love and stability.
Written on 10/30 but not posted until now, sorry I’m crazy busy.