On the Eve of my 42nd Birthday

You know those memory flashbacks that Facebook is so fond of posting, giving us the choice as to whether or not we want to remind others of what happened on that day 1 year, 2 years, or 5 years ago? So this one came up for me today: On the eve of my 40th birthday. Sometimes I’m hesitant to look at the memories of the past because…they hurt too much. And yet I don’t hide that option from my timeline. I’m trying very hard to look back and deal with, if not make sense of, the past couple of years of life. I haven’t wanted to feel the hurt there. There is a major part of me that thinks that feeling the hurt is the same thing as letting bitterness take root. And I want to be very clear – they can be co-mingled for sure, but they are not necessarily the same thing.

And I’m finding a bit of release in embracing the fact that I can still hurt over very real relational wounds without being bitter. I’m allowing myself to feel things a bit more and that means more tears, darn it, but so be it.

I was reading again in the Psalms this week and read this from Psalm 15:

O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
    Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
    and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue
    and does no evil to his neighbor,
    nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

I think I understood something that day. From January through the end of May we were not allowed to speak of what happened. I really wanted to. I REALLY wanted to come June. I didn’t. But there has always been this thought inside me that one of these days I will. I’ll write out the whole thing from our perspective just so there’s a fair representation of what happened. I’ve been waiting for some untold amount of time to pass so I can finally unleash it all.

And yet. He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend…that is the one who will sojourn in the tent of the Lord, dwell in His holy hill.

I got the message that day. There are some hurts that may linger for a lifetime. There are some stories never meant to be shared. God hears and that’s enough. It has to be.

So on the eve of this 42nd birthday, while I’m storing a prepped turkey in the front seat of the car in the garage here in Bozeman, Montana, I’m remembering an evening of sweet girls making pies and taking silly photos and watching a Christmas movie and then eating one of the pies and I’m grateful for this space of our lives. We’re in a good place. Educationally, we’re in a better place. Spiritually we’re working towards the same in our hearts. And I’m thankful.

I’m thankful for parents who stayed together through the good and the horrible. I’m thankful for a 4-year period of time where I could live close enough to them to be involved in my mom’s care during her last years. I’m thankful for fourteen little ones who softened our hearts in a fresh way over and over and over. I’m thankful…for the winter here (because if I say that one enough it has to come true, right? Where’s my sweater…)

I’m thankful for the hope of selling our OKC house soon. I’m thankful for the new relationships God is building into our lives. I’m thankful for a warm house here. I’m thankful for hope, for hope is sometimes all I have.

There was once a time when hard things happened in our life and I lost my way. I’m thankful God led me through that wilderness into a place of trust again. And trust in such a way that this time, though I’ve been wandering again for a while, I have not been lost.

And, in fact, I have a pretty clear view of where I’m heading.

And I’m grateful. Tears and all.

Happy Thanksgiving



One thought on “On the Eve of my 42nd Birthday

  1. Karen Barlow says:

    You don’t know me and I don’t know where to begin. Your husband and I have a mutual Facebook friend. I remember the day when the recent Facebook activity that scrolls on the right side of the screen said that Andy had commented on a status. I have no idea why I clicked on it. I rarely do. I really don’t know Andy that well…he is the RUF pastor for both of my sons at Virginia Tech. But I did click on it…and I saw Andy’s comment…and then I read your husband’s status…and then I cried. I read the status that your husband posted about the board’s decision to let him go.

    When my husband got home, I told him, “Listen to this. I read this status today of a person I don’t even know. You won’t believe it!” He probably thought that sounded kind of creepy…and I felt like a bit of a Facebook stalker myself. 🙂 But I read it out loud and we sat in stunned silence. You see, the VERY same thing happened to us. My husband could have written that same post. My husband had been the administrator of a Christian School for years. He had just received a favorable review from the board where they noted, “We look forward to working with you for years to come.” The very next month, they told him they were not renewing his contract. No warning. No (legitimate) explanation. Totally out of the blue. I read the comments posted by bewildered parents and staff encouraging you, thanking you all, and admitting their shock. I remember all of those things being said to us.

    This turned our family upside down. Our oldest was going to college the next fall. Now how were we going to pay for that? We had a house we knew we couldn’t sell without giving it away. Worse yet, I taught at the school. How could I quit my job and have both incomes lost? Oh, the questions, the hurt, the anger, the feelings of betrayal from people we considered friends. My husband was working on his Doctorate which put him in no man’s land…he was overqualified for so many jobs, but without the doctorate, he was under qualified for others. He filled out over 200 applications and get many “thanks, but no thanks” responses. The discouragement was overwhelming and the days were dark. I found myself questioning why God would allow this to happen to a family who had devoted themselves to Him and Christian Education. I just couldn’t make sense of it.

    After I read your husband’s post that day, I prayed for you all. I prayed for your family. I prayed for a job, I prayed for your children. I prayed for your heart. I prayed for healing. I could pray because I was there!! For whatever reason, God led me to look at your husband’s Facebook page today where I linked to this blog post. On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for this post. On April 28, 2011, our lives changed forever. So many of the things I still grapple with you addressed. The past hurts and the wounds that are still there. (We still live in the same town, which has made it harder.) I have wanted to make sense of the senseless. I have LONGED for the opportunity to share OUR side of the story since we weren’t allowed to speak either. I have fought the tendency to become bitter and some days I’m better at that than others. 🙂 So much of what you said really resonated with me and I feel like I have a kindred spirit out there!!

    Four and a half years later, I can tell you that the pain is still real. There is mourning over relationships that were broken for no reason. Neither of us trust people like we did before. But there is also a renewed realization of who God is, that His love is deep, that His plan is perfect, that He provides in amazing ways, and His grace is enough for very hard days.

    I really don’t know what prompted me to respond to this post. I just felt like I needed to thank you for being real and for reminding me that “I’m not the only one.” Sometimes that’s just nice to know. 🙂 Maybe in some way, I can encourage you by letting you know that “You’re not the only one.” I think the book of James is clear that we are to use the hard things we have endured to help others. I guess that even allows me to feel a connection to someone I’ve never met. That’s what makes the Body of Christ truly amazing!

    Keep looking to the hills! That’s where your help comes from! I pray you have had a blessed Thanksgiving…and a VERY happy birthday!

    Your fellow sojourner,
    Karen Barlow


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s