Today, I spent silent hours in the car with Greg–we were going, again, to the doctor. We don’t even pretend anymore; this morning, we didn’t want to be in the car, didn’t want to be spending our day in waiting rooms. We did not buy Chick-fil-a biscuits on the way out of town, didn’t discuss going to the arboretum after the appointments–there was no attempt to make this into a fun trip.
He got into the backseat of the car–he can’t ride in the front seat near A/C with his dry eyes. He played Dig It for ninety minutes while I listened to Jason Aldean on Pandora.
We were alone, together, absolutely silent, so weary of it all.
The drive home was slightly better–he’d gotten bad news about his heart, but good news about his eyes, and, besides, the Braves were on WTBS.
Distraction is good in a crisis, and October medical setbacks are splendid, really–there’s always baseball to watch, to pretend to care about. (Faking interest in every round of Wimbledon is much more difficult, but we managed to in 2001.)
When we got home, we continued watching, and I idly scrolled through Instagram–cats and triplets cheer me up when nothing else will. And, there, mixed in with the jumble of cheerful pics, there was a wedding picture of Juli Wilson, pastor Jarrid Wilson’s young widow. Her husband died by suicide a month ago–it was national news.
As I looked at the sweet, hopeful wedding picture, with its 37,000 likes–pictures taken just twelve weeks ago had only 527–and I thought, “This woman didn’t want this ministry.”
Just weeks ago, she was posting pics of her young sons on the ball field, silly shots with her husband at a barbeque, the whole family piled in the pool. Thirty days later, not only has her whole world changed, but she also has 161,000 followers.
She didn’t want them. That.
She wanted something else entirely.
That’s the whole problem, really: what we wanted is so far from what we got.
That sounds so simple that it’s almost moronic, but think about how far what you have right now is from what you wanted.
I wanted to be a stay at home wife, a homeschool mom, to have scads of children who had my eyes; I wanted to quilt and create. I cannot even confess all of the things that I wanted that I do not have because doing so gets me lost in a world of sorrow and lack.
Balancing the loss of what we wanted and the reality of what we have–and finding a bearable place to put all that pain–seems, at times, to be the bulk of adulthood’s mental work. There’s still a part of each of us that stands and screams, “This is not what I wanted!” and we have to try to silence the shouting, have to try to convince ourselves that this–though unwanted–is good.
Three weeks ago, when Greg was having his mitral valve replacement, we were told multiple times that he could die on the table, that–due to the calcification on his annulus– his heart could break in half.
My father, my brother, and friends in our inner circle offered to sit with me in the waiting room. I told them all no.
I wanted no one near.
I can’t help but think of my own desire for solitude and space when I consider Juli Wilson.
I cannot imagine my husband’s death making national news, my reeling family in the media spotlight, TV commentators dissecting his final hours, YouTube pastors and laypeople pontificating on his ultimate destiny–heaven or hell? And lost is the fact that Jarrid Wilson was a person, that there are people whom he is known to whose hearts are breaking.
And faced with this–the reality that she knew her husband, his heart, and their mission, Juli has decided to publicly walk forward on a path she did not choose. To accept the mantle she did not want, could not have dreamed of.
And that’s what we as Christians do–it’s what we must do to make sense out of this messy and chaotic earthly life.
We must hold up our broken pots, show them to each other, say, “This is what I have over here, and this is what I have learned so far.”
The beauty of our brokenness is that we don’t even have to create one perfect clay pot. We don’t have to have one single part of our lives together–not one single part–because we are covered by God’s grace, and people can see that light inside of us.
On Facebook this morning, after our long post about Greg’s rapid AFib and expensive eye medicine and weariness, there was a comment from an old friend: “It’s very brave for you to share your lives with us. At the risk of sounding trite and cliche “your tests are testimonies” to everyone.”
Greg and I are surprised by messages like these. We know we are deeper in the mire than we have ever been Despite this, God is using our walk.
Isn’t that amazing?
Greg and I cannot fathom how this will all end, or if it will end, ever. We are honest when we say this to each other.
Today, I told him, “What I miss most is having hope.”
And he reminded me that there is still, deep within me, light. “Aren’t you the one who says it will all work out, that it will be okay?”
“Oh, that?” I replied, “That’s faith. I have plenty of faith.”
Faith is my one clay pot, over in the corner, a little chipped but still unbroken.
I suppose Juli Wilson has a pot like mine–one she can’t put down, won’t give up, even if too many people are watching her carry it right now, even if she wants to rest.
Because once almost all of your pots are broken–once you have given up forever on finances and family and ease–you see the beauty in the few pots you still possess, and you want to show them, to share them, to say, “I can count the things I still care about, the things I am still sure of, on three fingers. But let me show you this beautiful pot that God gave me.”
Your remaining faith: His eternal glory.