May 20, 2016

The calendar says it has been 18 years. 18 times the 3rd weekend in May has come and gone. Some years I am more aware of it than others. Today I sit in the quiet listening to the rain. After this week, the rain is a welcome gift that makes being inside more inviting and safe. I feel at home in my big chair in my bedroom today.

The third weekend in May in 1998 was the weekend I was supposed to get married. In my American Dream this was the plan. Instead of getting married that weekend, I found myself at my uncle’s funeral and a hurricane exploding through the Outer Banks where we would have gone on our honeymoon.  Sounds like a real blast, right? I walked around in some funky kind of fog for the next few months. In hindsight, I don’t know that I was that heartbroken over “him”, although he was a really good guy. I was heartbroken and afraid because I had no solid plan for the future and I had no idea now how to wade through the deep rejection that I felt.

The third weekend in May isn’t about me missing my ex or playing My Heart Will Go On over and over. Jesus, take the wheel.  It’s about questions that always arise; each year to varying degrees. What do you do when life does not turn out the way you had dreamed it would turn out? A repeated question. I can’t help but think of this dear couple in my town. They were 11 weeks pregnant with their first child. The child and the mom died today. This was not the plan. This was not what was supposed to happen. I think of the family dealing with a deep betrayal of a father who is also a minister. He is sitting in jail. This was not the plan. This was not what was supposed to happen. My dear friend from college is burying her husband this weekend. And the questions continue until they cease and transition into a welcome silence in the presence of God.

In my self-focused moments these thoughts go through my mind. I was supposed to have worn a wedding dress a whole lot sooner than 41. I was supposed to be going dress shopping with my daughter for the 8th grade formal. I was supposed to be spending my Saturday’s watching my son play ball. I was supposed to mentor my girls through engagement and marriage, but I’m not married so they move on. Weekends are quiet. My friends are neck deep in parenting and date nights. They guard their weekends for family time. And the spiral continues. There’s a time to acknowledge pain and there’s a time when it starts to spiral that isn’t very helpful for anyone. There are only so many times a female heart can listen to REO Speedwagon and Celine Dion songs on repeat.

And I am angry and the anger turns to hurt. Hurt turns to tears. Any thoughts, God?

I want to rage against the cluelessness and insensitivity of families who take for granted that they are family. I want to shake a woman’s shoulders when she doesn’t see all that her husband does for her and say, “WAKE UP! You have no idea! It is not to be taken for granted that you get to be touched, held, supported and can have him open jars you can’t open. Do you have ANY IDEA what you have in front of you?” I know marriage is far from rainbows and sunshine. Trust me. You don’t have to share with me all the hard in case you are scared that I do not know. And if I’m honest, this isn’t even about being married or not being married. It is about sitting in the unanswered questions that life throws our way.

Then there are precious moments where my friend Jen says, “Tell me what it’s like to be single.” And I weep. Or how about when my friend Jarrod says, “I don’t know how you do it, Beth.” as he validates my loneliness. My college girls see the unique challenges of having best friends who are in their sixties and twenties; not many peers these days. Can anyone relate? Any thoughts, God?

The loudest people in our culture are usually the ones who are the most wounded. Often we cannot see that. All we can see is the anger and then we get angry back. What does our anger tell us? Whether we agree with the issue being debated or not, there are an awful lot of hurt people in our world who long to be seen and heard; people, like me, who do not have answers to questions near to their hearts.

Is my anger the truest thing in me? No.  Am I really angry at families? No. I’m angry because I am weary today. Not everyday, but today. My anger tells me I long for God to be near; to know and sense his real presence. My anger and hurt tells me that I was not made for the brokenness of this world. The same is true for you. Sometimes my anger keeps me from receiving the comfort of God.  Can we be done with that, please?

What have you done in your deepest moments of disappointment when all you want to do is rage? Can you stop for a minute just to acknowledge what IS? Ruth Barton talks about allowing your soul to come out of hiding in the presence of God. In his presence is where our soul is safe. We don’t have to judge it or fix it – we can be with God in our questions. Embracing mystery is welcomed versus trying to make up answers for every puzzling thing going on in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

I get weary at the language I hear all around me regarding striving, pressing in, going hard, next level, and I wonder what God says to this? I know he says a lot about it. Thankful that during the many postures in Psalm 23 that he is leading in all.

He is a God who is WITH us. If we press in, it is because He pressed in first. If we go hard after God it is his initiative and enabling that gives strength. He is the one who leads us up mountains, beside waters and through pastures. He is the one who gives us rest and gives us the ability to endure. He is the one who always honors suffering without running away. He asked the blind beggar, “What do you want me to do for you?” You, God, speak into our hearts core longing. You promise your WITHness in ALL things, even in the mysterious things. You, Jesus, are and were always asking questions and I think sometimes it is quiet because you want us to pour out the answers to the questions you are really asking.  The REAL DEAL questions. You know the ones.

You ask us to repent of our persona/roles/masks/image and to come out of hiding and be a real person. Just read about the woman who had the issue with blood.  She was an outcast and yet in her vulnerability and desperation she comes out of hiding and Jesus turns and calls her, “Daughter.” That is part of why I’m writing this blog. I feel exposed, yet something greater is moving in hopes that you, dear reader, will resonate and be able to breathe a sigh of relief that someone else knows the challenge of questions.

God, what do you think of all this? What do you think of the way we relate to one another?  How do you feel about the fact that we have such strong commitments to self? Why do you choose to call me, ‘Daughter’?  How do you still move towards me when I throw fits like a 3 year old?  I have no idea, but wow, thank you for the gift of joyful repentance. Thank you for the gift of helping us own our brokenness and depravity and the unbelievable gift of Christ, the hope of glory.

He understands weekends like this one. He sits with me in the questions. He sits with you in yours. He invites us to come be WITH and to not try and fix. When we realize we can’t fix it – sweet relief. And joy and gladness come.

15 thoughts on “The Third Weekend in May”

  1. Thanks for sharing Beth! I needed to hear this tonight too. My brother called this evening to ask about a movie that he and his wife were going to curl up and watch on this rainy evening. They then asked me my plans for the night and I told them? You guessed it! Dancing. 🙂 they asked “who are you going with?” I told them , “myself!” To which they questioned me and were surprised. I did go dancing! And then I cam home to an empty apartment because emu roommate is away for the weekend helping fix up her new home with her fiancé. Meanwhile, I read your post while binging on child and salsa. In bed. With my dog curled up next to me. I’m WITH you girl. Sometimes I just need a reminder of HiS presence. Thanks for being that for me tonight!

    1. Sweet girl! Thanks for sharing. So glad God invites us to Dance with the movement of his grace. I hear ya though. You’d love a dance partner preferably over six feet tall. 🙂

  2. Priceless Beth! And so full of promise! Thanks for sharing about the precious journey of ‘plan B’.

  3. Oh sweet Beth- you nailed it. These questions have been getting me in all sorts- thanks for reminding me that He is WITH. I SO wish we lived closer as I’m totally with you on the friends 60 or 20- where is the middle?!? Oh, they are at one of their kids graduations….that’s right! 😉 There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning!!!

  4. Beth, wow! I felt like I just ate a rich slice of strawberry cake….with homemade icing! Thank you for risking and sharing the deep places of your heart.

  5. BDubs – I love hearing/reading about/knowing your heart. Your words (and JUST YOU) are a gift to the world. I resonate with your thoughts on mystery. Thank you for living HIS story for you … and for courageously choosing to share yourself so vulnerably and so generously with us. I love you.

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