Thursday, July 22, 2004

a simple life

no, not paris and nicole. bobbie and liam.

simplicity is one of the spiritual disciplines that has basically been foisted upon us. we lead a very simple life. it hasn't always been that way. during the many years of infertility and two incomes we kept every restaurant in our area in business. i never cooked, rarely cleaned, and we were never even home.

going from 'there' to 'here' seems like 2 lifetimes ago. when we were driving on our way to the big move into ministry i looked at liam and gasped 'oh no, this means that pink and the baby i'm carrying will be pk's (pastor's kids)!' i was serious. i had never even considered that our vocational choice would directly effect our children in such a grave manner.

i had seen far to many mk's, pk's, faculty brats, and camp urchins in my life to know that i wanted better and more for pink and buck. too many children who's lives were destroyed by their parent's call to 'serve god'. i was terrified.

one of the observations i've made since being in ministry is that the 'called' are usually the 'broken'. i wish i had the education and know how to do a study, because i think that one would be fascinating. many are in ministry to meet the deep dark needs of their own soul by helping others. real co-dependency masked by a servant's heart.

it was at that point i knew that i needed to stay at home with pink and buck and attempt to restore balance and simplicity to our lives so that they were not two more statistics shipwrecked on the rocks of church ministry.

god's timing for heading into ministry was definately not ours. we had tried for the nine years after college to open any and every door we could find, and god slammed them all shut. we had finally resigned ourselves to the fact that we weren't 'fit' for god to use. the worker's were few, but god wasn't desperate enough to need us.

the call came less than a year into the purchase of our first home, and into our first child's life, and when i was expecting #2. i had just started my own home-based business, and was doing well. definately not 'our timing'. we put our home on the market and lost our shirts in the sale. god was driving us to give it all up for him, and we did it willingly.

we moved into a rented, broken down, bat-filled farm house on a dirt road in the complete middle of nowhere. and we were never happier. well, at least at the beginning. the church told us when we moved there (to 'part-time' ministry) that they weren't able to pay us a lot, but we would never starve. they lied.

by the time we entered our second year there we were eating out of the local food bank and existing on our credit cards. liam had just gotten a position at the high school to supplement the meager income the church paid us, but it was too little too late. we were in debt up to our eyeballs, even on our basic subsistance life. family vacations were to camp to work with the teen staff. they paid our gas and took care of our expenses, clothing was all second hand, and our groceries bill was only the things that weren't supplied by the food bank.

it seemed as if god was stripping away each layer of excess and forcing us into a place where we had no other choice but to rely on him. then the hurricane hit and that tiny church decided that we were no longer 'fit' to minister.

that next year was filled with even more winnowing and lack, but also health and healing. i again found recovery, liam wasn't working 70 hours a week any more. and we were visiting churches that actually were feeding us. our marriage which had fallen into great disrepair was beginning to thrive again, and when the move stateside finally materialized we were healthier, happier and more grounded than we had ever been. but we were in severe debt.

we were totally transparent with our new church during the interview process. they knew it all. my addictions, the past history at our previous church, and our financial situation. breaking through the shame of all of those issues and 'coming clean' allowed us to face our problems head on and not isolate ourselves and try to solve them on our own. and the fact that they knew all of those things about us and hired us anyway redeemed that place in our souls that said we weren't fit to minister.

the church paid for my therapy and found us finacial counselling. two of the elders took liam under their wings and have mentored him for the past couple of years. pouring their lives and love into him and restoring what the locust had eaten.

with two tiny payments i can excitedly say:


the tears are rolling down my face as i type this. it has been a LONG haul, filled with hard choices, and simplicity, doing without and saying 'no', but it has been worth it. just for today.

when i started into recovery i was very skeptical, i read the promises aloud at meetings and thought 'ya, right...' but truly today i can say that they have been, or are being fulfilled in my life. today, especially #9, #10 & #11. finally free.

As a result of working the Twelve Steps:

The Twelve Promises

1. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.

2. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

3. We will comprehend the word serenity.

4. We will know peace.

5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

6. The feelings of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.

7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.

8. Self-seeking will slip away.

9. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.

10. Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.

11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.

12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

"Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us -- sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them."

- From the A. A. Big Book.

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