Don’t worry; it’s not what you might think. I just enjoy grabbing your attention with a good title. There’s been a gap in my posting for quite some time now. And before I pick up again and move along, I’d like to explain a few things about how God has been working in my life since this past summer.
There was a period of time through Heather’s sickness and after her death where the public nature of the events – and of my life in general – felt like a good thing to me, most of the time. There were days when I felt like I was being swept away in a flash flood or a wave of circumstances. But the constant stream of supportive love and prayer from hundreds of friends and family was like a strong current flowing the opposite way and cancelling out the rush of water that was trying to knock me down. One force cancelled out the other and kept me standing. This wouldn’t have been the case had I not made the decision to live the events so publicly for everyone to see.
As some of the dust slowly started to settle, I too began to settle into a pattern of expressing what God was teaching me. It wasn’t the plan from the beginning. It just sort of took shape on its own. Keeping concerned prayer partners updated online gradually turned into sharing how God’s grace was ministering to me. But the feeling that I was being ‘followed’ by so many people started to get to me as time wore on and I just wanted to disappear sometimes. (Depression puts a weight around your neck, and that weight is trying to get you self-focused instead of thinking about serving others. I’ve never felt such a strong draw towards isolating myself as I have these past few months – especially from the local church, and that’s not a good thing).
Then things got more complicated.
Let me go back a little and then work my way forward again. God had been working in ways that I wasn’t even fully aware of leading up to Heather’s sickness. She and I both recognized that He had prepared us for the emotionally tricky topic of remarriage. In short: she pressed it; we talked repeatedly; and, God used her to settle my mind a great deal.
So after some time for prayer and for focusing on celebrating Heather’s life, I wrote a letter to the one God had put on both Heather’s mind and mine (independently I might add – which was really cool to discover).
Recommended? Nope (not unless God clearly leads as He has led me, but that’s up to Him).
But was it “right” for me, for my relationship with God, and for my two boys? Yes. And, as it turns out, it was also right for Anna who has embraced the situation wholeheartedly as being God’s design – another evidence of grace at work. And I can’t express enough how grateful I am for Anna’s attitude in all of this as I build a new relationship with her and celebrate Heather’s memory at the same time.
So what about the gap?
There’s been a lot going on in my heart over the past few months, and not all of it is easy for me to understand, let alone express. But my theory is that the gap in posting to this blog (trying to minister to people) came from a fear that people would see the unconventional path I’m taking and would make judgments about me and my walk with God. Transparency is easy when it brings a response of encouragement. It’s not so easy when it carries risk. My responses to opposition so far have ranged from pride, to feeling indignant, to getting discouraged, to worrying, to humbly leaving it with God. Not very consistent. In other words, in my insecurity, I was sensing a risk with bringing people along for the journey.
God has moved again in my life and it happened at Heart Conference (at Northland International University) two weeks ago. One word of encouragement came from an old friend I went to school with and one from a new friend. The new friend had followed our story through a mutual acquaintance and had been praying for us. He was glad to put a face to his prayers, and I was grateful to give an update. So while I was sharing, he could sense my insecurities when I arrived at the part about dating again and getting engaged so soon after my wife’s death. He said, “Brother, you don’t have to defend yourself. If God has designed it, then He has designed it.” He didn’t have the full picture of what I had been struggling with internally, but God used his words to challenge me about my self-focus in it all. I’ve been far too worried about what people think and not focused enough on what God thinks.
The second word of encouragement came from an old friend who had also been following our story (and this blog). He asked if I would be posting any more posts. So I sheepishly explained how I’ve been struggling with sharing out of a fear of people’s response to how God has led. I wasn’t sure if it was wise to express thoughts to others when I’m struggling. He mentioned how much the blog had been used of God to encourage him and how much he thought it would be helpful for people if I kept writing – even if I wasn’t always doing as well as I’d like. He might not have meant for them to, but his words carried heavy weight for me. I knew he was right. Thanks, Paul and John.
So here it goes. Blog 2.0. Round 2. Chapter 2. Call it what you will.
My goal is to share different things God has taught me and is still teaching me – same goal as before. As my life moves towards a second marriage in June, I want to be sensitive to those who are still deeply missing Heather, or find it hard to understand how someone could marry again so soon. But that being said, I don’t want to be so oversensitive that I don’t post anything at all. With God’s grace, I will find the right balance – and since my goal is ministry, that’s also my prayer. Please know that I am missing Heather too and will be for a long, long time. But, God has provided an incredible woman for me who does not feel threatened by the beauty of celebrating Heather. For her, it is securing to see the love I had for Heather, and it is reassuring that God will build something similar, but unique, for us. So as Anna, Judah, Levi and I begin to build a life together, we will be celebrating what we have and what we had with Heather at the same time. Come along for the journey, and we’ll boast about God and how His grace can do incredible things to move hearts for His glory.
Here’s a shameless “spiel” for an upcoming post that I’ve been mulling over. A theme that keeps resurfacing in the “struggle-thriving cycle” as I’ve been mourning is the idea of learning to live under the hand of a Sovereign God. He’s in charge and gets to call all of the shots. Obvious. But am I okay with that? And if not, how do I get okay with it? (Coming soon).