As I look over the texts for my next sermon, I was moved to take a book off the shelf which meant a lot to me at the time I used it, but which I have not revisited in a number of years. The book is a spiritual formation guidebook, which I worked through with a small group in my first call.
I am a tucker... forever tucking pieces of paper, photos, scraps on which I've written addresses, phone numbers, bible verses, into books. This is not good for the books. Be that as it may, I do it. Tucked into this guidebook were all sorts of worksheets I did at the time.
That's when my marriage was falling apart.
The worksheet that caught my eye was a reflection on John 13, Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. There were questions such as, "Jesus took off his outer robe so that he could wash the feet of the disciples. What 'outer robe' do you have to take off, metaphorically speaking, in order to take up the towel in the spirit of Jesus?"
I had to take off anger, and the shoring up of injuries, I wrote.
We were asked to contemplate how we might have to "stoop" to do ministry. I had to stoop to allow my children the space and grace to have a good relationship with their father.
We were asked to contemplate the phrase, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." What were my reservations about sharing Christ's life more fully than I did then? What were my fears? What were my hopes?
This is what I wrote:
What if my career/ ministry means that I will be alone for the rest of my life, without a partner? Am I willing to give it up? I fear that. I hope God will give me abundant life.
It was startling to have this snapshot into my soul from that long ago... months before Beloved and I encountered one another anew. Clearly, I was already struggling with the knowledge that, if another life partner was in store for me, it would be a woman, and thus present a conflict to my continuing in ministry. I longed for abundant life, and I longed to trust that it was out there for me.
Well. God is good. All the time. As they say.