I was packing this morning, and found a folder full of cards.
Some were from this Christmas,
well wishes and updates from friends and family.
Some were from our wedding,
congratulations, notes of encouragement, advice, recipes.
Some where from my time in the hospital
after the whole Mt. Hood misadventure, "Get well soon!"
And good many were from Linda,
the mom of the family that has been hosting us.
I was packing this morning because we are moving.
We have been asked by our host family
to find another place.
'Host' has often struck me as a strange word,
but recently it strikes a more ironic note.
Hosts have parasites. Parasites benefit at their host's expense.
This is what we have done.
Our stay has been an unsustainable expense,
not in physical but in emotional and spiritual resources.
Those cards from Linda are witness to the hard work, prayer, hope, and tremendous energy that she has poured into this relationship. There are cards too from others in the family: the little kids, welcoming us warmly; the older girls, working hard to mend what they could when things went wrong. For a year and then some, this family has gone beyond anything I've ever witnessed in the realm of hospitality, graciousness, sacrifice, and hope.
Nobody writes stories where the bad guy wins in the end.
No one posts pictures on Facebook of late night shouting matches, deepening worry lines, or tears of frustration and disappointment.
And no one can capture the dreadful dawn of realization - nothing is working, the wound is turning gangrenous, the pieces can't be glued back together.
All is not well.
The build up of relational damage has long been over the threshold of what most families would call too much.
"Get well soon." What a strange phrase - as if the wellness of the body or soul could be brought about by sheer will power. But I confess to having believed this. If I only try harder, say more, say less, say the right thing, argue louder... I can out-will the crash of the waves.
We are defeated, ashamed, depleted. A golden opportunity lies dashed on the sands, broken, wasted.
The Christmas cards, Get Well Cards, Wedding Cards, and most of all the cards from our host family reassure me. All is not lost. We are loved, even when we don't deserve it. We are prayed for, even when we forget to pray. There is hope for us because people keep hoping.
All is not lost, because God is a seeker and a reconciler, a redeemer of broken things.
We are broken. We are not well. As individuals and as a couple we have a lot to learn about godly relationship.
We have hurt the family that has given so much to us.
For them we are praying 'get well soon.'
May the damage that has been done heal quickly, may the dust of this turmoil be swept away and forgotten in new joys.
For us, please pray 'get well soon.'
We are putting our plans to go to PNG on hold for a little while. We asked God to make it clear if we should go, and we have taken this event as a red light. We have received a very sharp wake up call. If we are so ill equipped relationally - so damaging in a Christian community - how much more damage might we do when we are the only examples that people have of who Christ is?
Please pray for us as we seek relational wellness. This isn't about being 'ready.' We are willing to go as soon as God says go. This is about taking our calling to reflect Christ seriously. We need to grow in wisdom and humility. We need to learn how to fill the roles of husband and wife in a way that puts God on glorious and beautiful display. We need spiritual protection as well as hearts that are willing to learn and grow no matter how painful the lessons may be.
Thank you for your love and support. We are ever humbled and amazed by God's care for us through this blessed community. Please, keep praying and hoping for us.
God is good.