Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Unexpected Blessings

Life is full of the unexpected. 

You're going to be a pastor.
No, not me!

Your step-dad and father will die before you turn 30.

You're going to serve in The Gambia, West Africa for 2 years.
Where in the world is The Gambia? 

You'll be called to be a pastor in Missouri.
Missouri?  Really?

You'll fall in love and marry another pastor.
A clergy couple?  No way!

You'll be engaged in a long-distance relationship and marriage for over 2 years.
You've got to be kidding me.  Married couples live together.

Yet, here I am.  Living in Missouri, a pastor, married, and now anxiously awaiting the day when 2 years and 4 months of a long-distance relationship comes to an end.

My husband, Stephen, graduates from seminary this Saturday.  Three years ago I took my turn robed in cap and gown walking along Main Street with cars honking and family cheering.  Now it's Stephen's turn. 

Graduation is exciting and hopeful.
But so is living together. 
So is being married in the same state.
Or so I've heard. 

Once Stephen graduates we're packing up and starting our life together.  Nine months after our wedding day.  Now granted we have seen each other, and we've talked on the phone every day but 2 during these two years.  But we've missed out on the day-to-day living.  Until now. 

We did it.  Thanks to God.  Thanks to family and friends and time at the farmers' market.  Thanks to skype. 

I'm no expert on relationships but these last two years have provided time for reflection on what's worked for Stephen and I over the distance.  It hasn't been always easy or fun or loving.  There have been many tears.  And frustrations.  And silence.  But also lots of laughs.  And wonderful hugs upon first seeing each other after some time away. 

We learned the important of date nights across the distance.  Date nights over skype eating dinner together and recapping our days.  Date nights going for a walk with phone in hand.  Date nights watching Modern Family together (of course only taking during the commercials!)  What was important was that we set aside time for each other.  Together. 

We remembered the joy in receiving snail mail.  We poured our feelings and love and frustrations on pen and paper.  We saw glimpses of places visited and people met through postcards and pictures.  We took the time to mull over our words and see our writing.  I love talking with the older members in the congregation I serve and their stories of letters collected and saved from years of separated relationships due to military service.  Stephen and I too now have a history of the early years of our relationship. 

We continually gave thanks for family and friends.  Whether it was a late night tearful call to my mom or the middle of the day calls from friends to say hello, we were loved.  And never alone. 

We move forward together, Stephen and I, strengthened and hopeful.  And thankful for the unexpected encounters and experiences to come. 

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