The last two weeks have been unsettling to say the least. Two weeks ago, there were two blows. The senior pastor (Mike) of my church had a massive heart attack on my birthday, and just before that, I learned that the other full-time pastor (Don) in my church was moving to Virginia.
I wasn’t prepared for how far those two things would throw me. And in fact, I didn’t even realize how much they had thrown me until after the fact. On one hand, I knew that Don that moving for all the right reasons, and I was excited about the possibilities that were opening up for his family. On the other hand, I felt the loss of him leaving. Then, just days later, Mike’s heart attack not only made me fearful about his outcome, but it brought all kinds of memories back. Memories that didn’t end well under similar circumstances. But the day after this happened, I saw our community come together in prayer for Mike and in support for Don and I was comforted by the togetherness felt by the shared experience of worry, fear, celebration and mourning.
This was followed by two weeks of what I can only describe as an empty place. I didn’t process, I didn’t give myself quiet time to think, I didn’t write, I didn’t reflect. I filled my non-TV time with other screens and other distractions. I had a business trip followed immediately by a miserable head cold, both giving me more excuses to disengage and just be.
During that time, I’ve had a parenting struggle that left me second guessing what I should have done differently to influence a different outcome. My relatively hands off approach, combined with a teenagers lack of planning skills resulted in a very difficult lesson in academic cause and effect that has resulted in ample opportunity for second guessing, what if’s and woulda, coulda, shouldas…none of which are conducive for future thinking spiritual growth.
This last weekend, my oldest daughter and I went with her dad to visit one of the colleges she has been accepted to in the hopes that a final decision could be made on where she will spend the next 4 years. We had a great time, the decision was made and celebrated and I was starting to feel like a positive shift was occurring. Then yesterday, the bottom dropped out. The feelings that I had been ignoring, the sense of loss, the fear, came rushing out in an gut wrenching argument that left me feeling drained, rejected and very sad.
I’m starting to realize that the process of separation that a child has to go through in order to leave home starts long before she leaves. The argument was probably a natural step in the assertian of the right amount of independence that will allow the actual leaving to be easier (at least for her). My reaction has much more to do with what will happen 5 months from now, than what was happening in that moment.
So for now, the process of pulling apart has left me feeling a little bit rudderless. I feel that my primary job as a parent is entering a new phase and the time for new lessons will look a lot different than past lessons. The active work of teaching, loving and doing my best to prepare her for independence is coming to an end of sorts. That doesn’t mean that my job as a parent is done, but it will be different, and it will require physical separation, independence, and a disconnection (or reconnection) of the places that our hearts are currently intertwined.
Come fall, there will b a part of my spiritual heart that will be in Virginia, and there will be a part of my heart and soul living in Lansing. For now, the pushing and pulling is new to me. As some parts of my spiritual journey come together, others will be pulled apart and reformed to better fit the new reality. In the middle of that is an empty place that feels disconnected from the past and not quite ready for that future. I have more questions than answers and the loss of control has me flailing and floundering a bit. Maybe the acknowledgement of that place will leave it more accessible to the pathways out. In the meantime, I will try to remember something that I saw on someone’s Pinterest board yesterday: “In the happy moments, praise God. In the difficult moments, seek God. In the quiet moments, trust God. In every moment, thank God.”
And from this morning’s lesson at church, I will remember that I need to learn to be in the wilderness without a deliverance answer, because it is by facing my enemy (fear) that true deliverance is found.