It wasn’t the best time of our lives. And even if we saw it coming, we were still unprepared for the intensity it brought with it.
When they loved us, we felt like we were doing something right. When they hated us, we felt like we had done everything wrong. What hadn’t changed in between the two extremes was who we were and how we were ministering.
It wasn’t us.
It just happens.
Wes was depressed. Broken, hopeless, hurting. I was angry. Furious, seething, raging. We were tired. We were stressed out. We were stretched beyond our limits. We were learning more about the sufficiency of Christ and our own depravity than we wanted to, frankly.
And our girls? Were confused about what was happening. The same people who tore their father to shreds in deacons’ meetings would lean over to kiss their tiny, precious, innocent cheeks at church. And though I remained civil and didn’t let my own selfish and broken heart reign and rule my actions… well, the girls still felt what I felt. As I wept over wrongs done to Wes and my inability to do anything about it, my tiny children watched me as I sat on the floor of our kitchen, wiping away tears and swearing to them that Jesus was, even still, watching us and loving us and going before us.
And He did. And He does. And I’m convinced that He loves the preacher’s kids with a special tenderness because they endure more before their time for the sake of His name. Ana would go into the church, walking in front of me, praying out loud over classrooms, asking God to make the people be nice to Papi so he wouldn’t come home sad. And she’d climb up to the pulpit before anyone came to the church, holding her sister’s hand, reaching out and touching the very place where Wes would preach the Word of God… and we’d pray together, affirming that Jesus was so very, very kind to us, for calling all of us to ministry, for appointing us to this place at this time, and for letting us walk beside and love our pastor, even in this, even still.
The memories now aren’t of contentious meetings or stressed out parents. I’ve asked the girls what they remember, and they can tell me about the sweet believers who loved Christ, who loved them. They can remember Pizza Hut, the donut shop, riding the Gator at Mr. Jack and Mrs. Judy’s house, and the toy closet at Mrs. Lisa’s house. They can tell you about the blizzard, about the playground down the street, the zebra puppet at VBS, and the kiddie park.
And praying. They remember praying on those defeated mornings, when Christ alone was victorious, as He went before us and did His work in our church, in our community… and in us.
When I started working on Even Still, I was setting out to write a cute, little, romantic story that would set the scene for other stories down the line. And while I hope I achieved that, I did more than I intended to by drawing from our own experiences. I only write this post as preface to the new novella’s release (which happens tomorrow — eeee!!!) to affirm, again and again, that ministry, even HARD ministry, is God-ordained, God-purposed, and ultimately God-glorifying, sometimes simply because it IS hard. I’ve often wondered what kind of legacy we’ll leave to our daughters as they walk this “PK Road,” and as they are with Abby’s story, I have to remember that God’s timing and purposes for their lives are above my own and that He alone knows where they’ll go and how these collective experiences will play into their faith stories. I’m simply thankful to be with them as they walk through the highs and lows of being born into ministry.
That said, I hope you will LOVE the new novella. It’s a sweet, romantic story with plenty of funny, but it also has more to say about grace and faith than your average love story. Whether you’re in ministry or just part of a church, whether you’ve been hurt or not, I hope it will speak to you and minister to you. And seeing as how it’s Pastor Appreciation month (lucky coincidence, honestly!), you might consider gifting your own pastor’s wife with a copy. I know she’ll appreciate that you even thought to appreciate HER, since this month is all about her husband, after all. Ha, ha!
See you tomorrow for the big release!