The two year journey

It has been a full two years since we have arrived to the holy bubble of Wilmore, Kentucky. The past two years have brought joy, laughter, new friendships… and a whole lot of crying, struggling, and frustration. When we arrived here, we were hopeful, full of anticipation and excitement for the years to come. Quite quickly that left us, and we were full of anxiety and apprehension instead. The trauma of transitioning hit us full force, and it is only now, two years in, halfway through this adventure, that we feel settled and more at home.

I have known, long before we were married, long even before we were engaged, that JJ had a call on his life, and that the Lord was going to use him in some way to further His kingdom. It has been a slow, drawn out process of discernment and prayer that has finally brought us to the place we are now.  It took a lot of time and waiting on the Lord to finally make the choice to attend a seminary, and even more wrestling with God to decide to move so far from our support system of family and friends.  But God made a way for us, and here we are.  The journey, however, has been far from easy. I struggled with an anger towards God in the first few months here. It wasn’t everything I hoped it would be. I wanted to love it, wanted to love this place that we had heard so much about. But I didn’t. I couldn’t work in the field I loved because of licensing requirements, I couldn’t find any job at all,  and the kids cried A LOT over how they missed friends and family. We had much anxiety about living on student loans.  I was pregnant and uncomfortable, waddling around, and so incredibly lonely.  JJ was off in classes and small groups, adjusting to his new role of student, and I was having a hard time finding my place and my purpose here.  I had been so sure of the call on JJ’s life that I forgot that God was also calling me.  Not only calling me to be a support person for my husband and family in ministry, but  calling me to strengthen my relationship with Him, calling me to seek out a deeper love for the One who first loved me.   I forced myself to go to chapels, where many times I would end up in tears. I was broken, frustrated, and angry, and I let God know it.  And He loved me anyway. He loved me through it. He put into my life people that spoke beauty and truth. People who ministered to my brokenness.  And I leaned in to the community here. I involved myself in a spiritual formation class. I hated it. It was head-y and deep, and I just didn’t get it. But I forced myself to go every week. And suddenly, I loved it. Something finally clicked, and I was able to see God in a different way, and I found rest and refreshment in Him. I slowly got to know others and found friends. Loneliness still finds me occasionally, and I ache to have deep, authentic relationships with others. I forget sometimes that it takes 5 years to have a friend that you’ve had for 5 years.

And I admit to failing in the distance relationships with friends and family back home in Minnesota.  When we would have conversations with others back home, I would find myself grieving afterwards for what we left behind. It became harder for me to make those phone calls, to skype, to chat with those living their lives in the northern tundra. And so, I stopped calling. I avoided the interaction. And for that, I am sorry. Sorry that I let those relationships fall by the wayside, that I did not communicate and share what we were going through, what we are going through. Sorry that I wasn’t honest, that I glossed over the tribulations of my heart. Sorry that I wasn’t open and authentic with others in the way that I craved for open and authentic relationship.

And where does that leave me now? As we begin year number three, I find that I have been able to find my place. I am feeling more settled in my soul and comfortable in my own skin. I have found employment within the seminary, and I work in the office that helps the families of our school. It has been a blessing to me, to be able to minister to others in the way that I was ministered to during the past years.  It may only be for a few hours each week, but it gives me a place and a purpose different than what I am at home with my own family.  I have also found that, though I do not feel a calling to preach in the way JJ is called, I am feeling the need to share and the willingness to speak the redemptive healing that I have found in Christ. I do not enjoy speaking in public, but I love to write and I know that I can witness through the written word. I don’t think I could have written these emotions, these thoughts, without the experiences of the last two years. They have grown me, and shaped me, and God has proven His love for me, for my family, over and over during this time. We have been abundantly blessed, and I find I have an overwhelming gratitude now for the little things, the everyday things.  I have been beautifully broken open here in a way that I never imagined, and it has been healing and powerful. There is definitely a holiness to this place that I did not even imagine at the start of this journey. This “holy bubble” of a town has become a special place to me, and when I think to the future and leaving this place, it already creates a twinge in my heart. Who knows where the journey will take us over the next two years?  But God has made straight our path and we will continue to trust Him in His leading.