I thought my life was fine and wouldn’t change much until we retired. I loved my church and could not imagine leaving it. Looking back, I see that I loved my church so much I made it into an idol. I would never have said we were perfect, but I was proud of my congregation and my place in it, and I did think we were really special. And I had my own version of the prosperity gospel. I didn’t expect God to make me rich, but I thought He would give me peaceful, harmonious relationships at church and at home. Didn’t God owe me that … after all the work I put in being a good Christian?
That is not the attitude God wants in His servants and I see that now. Eventually my self-satisfied life began to dissolve.(Here comes the death and rebirth part). Our oldest daughter hit adolescence and had a lot of problems. We tried all sorts of things, including counseling, but nothing seemed to work. Years later Beth was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and by then we had all been through a great deal of pain.
At the same time things were going wrong at church. Some friends were angry at the Pastor and the situation kept escalating. Eventually they left. I was in anguish seeing the congregation I poured my life into torn apart. To top it off, Terry decided he was called to the ministry. I didn’t mind him being a pastor, because that would just be Terry’s job. However I didn’t want to move to St. Louis and become the primary breadwinner so that he could go to seminary. I told him this was just too much to ask, with one child in college and one with mental health issues. He could move, but I would not.
Terry thankfully, agreed we should stay together, and said if God wanted him to be a pastor He would make it happen. And He did. Terry found a Lutheran denomination that offered seminary courses via distance learning. He kept his job and began the process. When he came to the point where this denomination would have required him to go on a one year internship, he found another Lutheran group that agreed to ordain him immediately. So Terry had his wish, or rather God’s wish. Now what?
The denomination that ordained him did not have an open pulpit, so Terry decided he would have to start a mission congregation, a daunting prospect. We knew from experience how much effort that took. Then a friend asked Terry if he would fill in at his church. They were between pastors. We came to St. Paul’s where something clicked for us, and I believe, for the congregation very quickly. They were small but lively and not afraid to keep the church running on their own. They appreciated Terry’s gift for teaching and preaching. They encouraged me, too, and allowed me to participate in the way I saw myself: an active layperson, not just the Pastor’s wife.
Terry and I have now been at St. Paul’s for more than ten years. The church joined the AFLC and Terry is on their clergy roll. I’ve written articles for the Lutheran Ambassador and a Bible study for the national women’s group. I serve at church in many ways. Since retiring, I am a part time caregiver for my granddaughter, Katelyn, and my mother with dementia. Now I’ve become a blogger! Many of these are things I would never have imagined doing. Life with God is a continual surprise. I’m humbler now and don’t pretend to know what my future holds. John Wesley once said,
When I was young I was sure of everything. In a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before. At present, I am hardly sure of anything except what God has revealed to me.”
I don’t know what my future holds, but I know God has a plan and that He will continue to work it out in my life.