Doubt, Musings, Suffering

Discerning, Doubting, Discovering: a Life Update

Just in case you were (unintentionally) baited by the title of this post, this is not another “I’m losing my faith/leaving Church/deconstruction” sort of post. Not that there hasn’t been a good bit of that in my journey and for those around me, and I have been deeply involved with some friends walking paths like this. But, I’m just saying outright that this isn’t the subject of this update.

I realized that there has been a lot going on in our life, and I felt like a longer form post would help bring those things together for you (and for me!).

Discerning

I have officially entered a formal discernment process in the Episcopal Diocese of MD toward being ordained. This could be kind of confusing for those of you who know that I was ordained as a pastor while serving at Gallery Church. The short version is that, as a different branch of the Church with their own rules and ways of doing things, it is more of a process. A several year sort of process. But, I am submitting myself to it. This is a new season of discernment, which is a fancy word for prayerfully exploring and listening and responding to what God might be up to, particularly as it relates to my own sense of calling.

Something I am learning about myself is how important it is to truly seek to discern rather than just decide. Decisions, for me, are often made without doing some of the deeper work as to what my feelings and fears are. The last few years of my life have been me learning to name and confront those things, seeing how God might be at work in them and what stories might be at work in me. As a result, I am engaging more in a process of becoming and seeing, rather than in procedural steps which lead to some predetermined outcome. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.

So, for now, I am assigned to a church in Howard County, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, as an intern, where I will be serving through January in a variety of ways, and also discerning with folks there. I would welcome your prayers and conversation along the way.

Doubting

There have been some intensely painful moments over the last year as we have been walking with my sister through her treatment for ovarian cancer. She has been very open about this process, but it was about a year ago that something showed up on a scan at the doctor’s office which led to surgery the day after Christmas to remove a large cancerous tumor. What has followed has been a difficult journey of doctor’s visits and bad news and chemo and complications and loss. She should finish her treatment by Thanksgiving, but there will likely be more to go. A big question I’m holding in the midst of all this is, “God, how could you be present in this? This hurts and I don’t understand.” That’s sometimes all I can bring myself to pray.

We are still fostering a little girl, who has been with us for over two years now. The plan is to reunite her with her family, but it has been complicated by a lot of factors and instability. We are living court date to court date, and it has been a very trying time. I have a lot of doubts about the foster care system, its ability to truly care for children and even determine (much less act in) the best interests of these children. I have doubts as to whether what we are doing even really makes a difference for her. My prayer for this? See above.

Discovering

A few months ago, Kara woke me up with a befuddled look on her face and something in her hand, saying, “What does this look like to you?” As I put on my glasses and allowed my vision to adjust, low and behold, she was holding a pregnancy test. A POSITIVE pregnancy test! We’ve had them before, though rarely, and have never had a pregnancy last very long. It’s been a painful thing up until this point, not having children while trying to for the past six years.

So…we’re having a baby! The baby’s due in early March and we are thrilled, amazed, and it still feels surreal.

So what am I discovering in all of these things? New, multifaceted ways that this world is broken, pain and suffering cannot be well-explained, knowing yourself is not for the faint of heart, and graces may be found in the midst of it all. Life is complex and wild. There are gifts in the midst of the truly dark things. And it is hard to see how God is present and how we are to respond to and follow this God. And it is hard to fully celebrate things will grieving other things.

There is much, much more to say and unpack about these things, so hopefully some more posts to come.

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