Saturday, September 1, 2007

Maybe not my turn yet?

In all my whining about being stressed, I'm aware that I've got things pretty good. We have a home and work that is stable and satisfying; we have family that's mostly in good health. We are able to do pretty much what we like: no impulsive trips or major purchases, but a little planning gets us pretty far.
My stepmother is dying, but Dad seems to be hanging in there pretty good.
Ben's mom is doing better in her new independent living apartment; she even seems to have a boyfriend.
Is it family drama? Sure it is, but it's not too much to handle (this week).
In talking with a friend this weekend whose dealing with his own family drama, we observed that the family drama we're coping with is not our drama. It's all at a remove: my husband's mother, my father's wife. It's mine, too, because I love my father and my husband, and care for Ben's mom and Bobbi...but I'm very aware that the intense worry and grief is theirs and not mine.
So is it just not my turn yet? That was my answer to my friend: maybe it's just not our turn. Maybe the next drama will be ours, and won't that be miserable? But I kind of hope not. I think I'm good enough at what I do for right now, and appreciated for what I do, and I know that I am happier at what I do more where I am now than I have been in any previous appointment. Can it be that I am feeling content where I am? That I have for a time that elusive "peace that passes understanding"?
I don't know. I tend to enjoy a little bit of drama...keeps the blood (or maybe just the blood pressure) pumping. But right now I have enough stress for myself: dealing with the new meds and eating habits, starting this DMin, LOGOS starting at church and all the stuff that was on break for the fall kicking into high gear. Have I just shut myself down, so that I don't take on more than I could handle? And if I have, is that a sign of maturity (knowing my limits, something I've never been good at before) or is it a kind of emotional distancing that is keeping me from caring for the ones I love as they struggle?
I don't think it is; at the risk of being self-serving or arrogant, I suspect that I am truly for the moment living with a measure of grace that's not mine. I don't do a lot of God-talk here; it's hard to do it well, and it's important to me that I do God justice. But tonight I think it's fair: I think I'm living on grace and peace that do not originate with me, but are a gift from God.
I preach that our lives as Christians are meant to be lived in relationship with God and one another, that we cannot be our best Christian selves in a vacuum. One of the reasons I give is that sometimes we go through these faith-shattering events: the death of a spouse or a parent's illness, the devastating disappointment we can only feel in the failure of one we have loved, bad news from a physician or employer or friend. And when we go through these things, we sometimes count on our Christian family to have faith for us, until we're ready to pick it up again. Sometimes the interval is minutes or hours, sometimes it's days or years...but that's a part of what we can share with one another in Christ: a love that sustains us when it seems like the world is in pieces.
What I'm wondering, in my little arrogant and needy heart, is if perhaps this is a time when I am the one who can hold things together, who can offer some support to Dad and Ben, for the time being, to offer that sustaining grace and peace and love of Christ. Until it's my turn to need someone else to hold it together so I can be supported.
I suspect it won't be long, but I'm grateful for this time, when I feel like I've got my feet under me...and I thank God for it.


  1. So well written. I am glad this is a better appointment for you all. But to have "parents" ill or needy is a big stress. And yes, I think that is the way it works sometimes, at least in our marriage it does. Ministry is stressful. Prayers for your family and you as you start your DMin program.

  2. From one UM clergywoman (who is part of a clergy-couple) to another: Welcome to RGBP!

    And might I add - Go DUKE!

    We lived in NC for 4 years while going to seminary and still go to the beach every year for vacation!

    I miss NC!

  3. I forgot to say welcome to revgalblogpals. Hope it is a good experience for you.

  4. Anne, welcome to revgals- as for life sh*t happens, but God is with us.....

  5. That is a beautiful and heartfwlt reflection. Glad you have joined the RevGals. Welcome!


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