Today is our youngest’s birthday. Three years ago Anah was born into our family. She didn’t know it, nor did she cause it, but she was born into a hectic time. In February of 2013 we re-learned baby routines; bought a house, moving for the third time in four years; our church sold a recently built building we couldn’t afford; and we began a major rehab project for a new church space.
I have only blurry memories of those days, including Anah’s birth. It’s fair to say I was overly distracted. I remember answering a phone call from the church’s realtor while I was holding our minutes-old baby. Why? I suppose I thought it was important. I believed I was serving others…to ignore the call in the moment would be choosing selfishly. That kind of priority-disoriented-moment was mirrored many times over the following three years. It became easy to choose “serving” others at the sacrifice of family and self. I would go on to “serve” a struggling church budget by reducing my salary on two occasions, and then, to help balance our home budget, I began working 3-4 shifts a week as a hospital chaplain. Throw in a typical Sunday routine, an occasional church-related meeting, and in a normal week I was home for maybe two evenings. We managed this life for 3 years. It wasn’t much of a life.
I have to remind myself daily that I was the one who chose it. I was quick to volunteer. And in every moment I wholeheartedly believed I was doing it FOR the sake of others.
But the truth is; it wasn’t working. It wasn’t working for my children, my marriage, or my own wholeness. And, although I won’t write about it today, it wasn’t working for the very people I thought I was serving.
Today I confess that if the faith-formation of our children happens best in a Deuteronomy 6:7 kind of way…talking as we sit at home, as we drive together, as we go to bed and wake up…I was not engaged as I should have been. I see it clearly now, and it must change.
I can point to a moment when I began to reorientate some priorities. It was in a question posed by Walter Brueggemann during our first spiritual-direction session. He asked, “What regrets will you have in ten years if things remain the same in your life?” Then he followed it up with, “What regrets will your children have in ten years if things remain the same in your life?”
As I walked away from that session I knew there was much that HAD to change. And although we don’t fully know what is in store for us…we have sought to walk courageously and faithfully toward a new kind of life.