As I wrote about previously, my life has changed drastically over the last twenty months with the ending of my marriage. It was sudden and unexpected and for a while I wasn’t able to continue in pastoral ministry. Trying to lead other people in the walk of faith was not something I could do as my own faith was going through a time of major crisis. Though I agree it is important for pastors to speak of their own pain and struggles and doubts, there are times when our situations are so intense and disorienting that it is better not to speak about them from the pulpit until we have sorted through them for ourselves. Such was the case for me with the ending of my marriage.
Over the past twenty months, my faith and my voice have slowly and persistently returned. I am again grateful for my call to ministry and the life of faith to which I have committed myself. There have been some significant learnings along the way and I thought I would share some of those today.
First, I don’t believe “everything happens for a reason.” I don’t believe the break-up of my marriage was something that God intended to teach me a lesson. I don’t believe it was part of “God’s plan for me.” I believe what happened broke the heart of God just like all tragedies break God’s heart. What I do believe is that out of the tragedy I can make the decision to continue to embrace life and look for the grace that is present. It means that though God did not will my struggles, that God will accompany me as I move forward. For me, it has meant that I have not shut the door on the possibility of a new relationship with a new partner in life. So I am dating again. And talk about not knowing what you are doing, re-entering the dating world has been an interesting experience. Last time I dated twenty-six years ago, the internet was a word I didn’t even know. Now, it is the way you meet someone. So I have joined a dating site and developed a profile and been on some dates. I don’t think God has one person picked out for me. I do think God will be with me, as I try to find the person with whom I spend the second half of my life. In other words, my divorce was not part of God’s intention for my life, but neither was it the end. After working through my grief, I have the opportunity to rediscover again the joy of relationship. For me, this is God’s gift of grace present in my life.
Second, though I wish it would have happened in a different way, the break-up of my marriage has brought me closer to both my children. Once I was able to get through some of my own pain – a journey which they both helped me with, I was able to be more aware of what they had lost as well. In time, I was able to become the parent both of them still needed even though they are young adults. It has also led to me having adventures with them that I never would have had before. I have always been scared of ledges and falling, but I have learned that I shouldn’t let my fears hold me back. So last week, I went sky diving with my son and daughter. We jumped out of a plane at 13, 500 feet above the ground. In other words, I fell from about 2.5 miles up. My heart was pounding. I was sweating. I could barely breathe. But I jumped. And when I watch the videos of my two children’s jumps and see the pure joy on their face, I would do it again in a minute to share that experience with them. They are my life’s greatest joy and though we have gone through something difficult, we have grown closer through it.
Re-entering the world of dating and jumping out of a plane are both matters that mean I will seek to live without my fears holding me back. I have just this one life and though it has taken a turn I did not want or expect, I still have this life and I want to try and live it to its fullest measure. Not selfishly nor narcissistically but gloriously. Laughing, loving, serving, dating, jumping.
This is my one life, given to me by the God who has never left me. I want to soar in this life to heights that I never before imagined, but now I see more clearly as a gift of grace.