Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Dream Deferred

It was seven years ago this month that I first realized that I was being called to become a pastor. The circumstances of that event and so many things that have followed have increased my certainty that this was a true experience, and that God is calling me, compelling me forward, to a life of ministry. I knew at the time that this meant years of preparation and I was okay with that. On the education side I went back to college, got a ministry degree, took a year off to catch my breath and then started seminary a year ago. On the ordination side things have been bumpier, for reasons I don’t feel like rehashing right now. But suffice it to say that ordination is still off in the future, and seminary will require at least two more years if I am able to continue full-time. So seven years have gone by, and I’m still in the ‘preparation’ stage.

I don’t feel bitter about this lengthy period of preparation. But my longing to be set free to plant a church and finally be doing what I feel such a calling to do has been sustained so long that it is threatening to turn to sorrow. A good friend of mine was trying to engage me in conversation about our dream church plant the other day and I found myself not wanting to talk about it. At some point it feels painful to keep dreaming about something that is still just out of reach. There are so many people I know or know of who need the kind of community that I dream about. When the mother of one of my daughter’s friends asks me if she can go to church with me, I feel so sad that I have no place to bring her. There is no way she can travel to the church we’re serving at in another city an hour away. And that church would not know what to do with this poor, broken, alcoholic woman with previous church abuse baggage. And there are others… I feel this desperation for the church I dream of to be a reality. But I still have to wait, deferring my dream until the kairos moment when it will be birthed into being.

I have great hope that this time will come in the not-too-distant future, and great joy that this dream is now shared with my future husband. But for now, it’s still time to wait and prepare.

A Dream Realized

This will be a more personal than theological entry and I thank you in advance for your indulgence. My scarce writing on this blog is largely because I’ve been busier than usual. In addition to the usual school, work, parenting routine I’m preparing to marry my fiancĂ©, Josh Clark, in just two months! ( I’ve been single for over 8 years now with only a couple of less-than-wonderful dates in all that time, until meeting and falling in love with Josh a year ago. This weekend marks the anniversary of when we attended the Off-the-Map conference in Seattle and “it all started.” We’re leaving tomorrow to attend this same conference, and I guess I’m feeling reflective about how much things have changed this year.

I worked hard at not being a desperate single person, at not putting my life on hold to find a man, at not indulging in much self-pity, and in making a good life for my daughter and me. But even so, I remember poignantly how alone I would feel in my bed at night, exhausted from a long day’s responsibilities, longing for someone who could just help with the laundry. So many years of singleness after years of an empty marriage made me wonder sometimes what love was really like. I would watch my friends co-parenting their children in the way I might look at a National Geographic magazine portraying some foreign culture. And sometimes I would dream of meeting someone who would be the right fit for marrying a divorced-single-mother-pastor-church-planter with a pre-teen daughter, realizing that such a man might not exist.

So it was a year ago that I looked with wonder into the eyes of Josh Clark and started to realize that he just might exist after all. And I discovered with even more amazement that I could be the woman of someone else’s dreams too. As our lives are coming together I am finding the daily joy of watching a dream unfold – the dream of loving and being loved in return, the dream of sharing life with a wonderful person who makes a great partner in the daily working out of life and faith. I’m filled with gratitude and thankfulness that this dream has become reality!