I spent a year hiding, mourning. I stopped cooking, barely showered, couldn’t find my joy. It was inconceivable to me that my daughter was no longer in my everyday life. Chef and I traveled to South Korea to see her when she taught for a year, I went back to bring her home. I bought serious backpacks so that she and I could travel South East Asia before we came back, the most exquisite mother-daughter time imaginable. Within 2 months of returning home, she fell in love, 4 months saw her packed up yet again and moving to Nebraska. Soon she was pregnant and a wedding was being planned. A whirlwind for my frustratingly slow-decider. Family stories abound of her inability to choose food at the drive-through, pick clothes to wear. As a child who has always hated change, needed much transition, this was beyond out of character. This whirlwind swept her out of our lives. I spent a year so deep in my head, trying to figure it out, trying to reach her, I stopped reaching for God and any of his angels.
My friend Janet sent me a text, saying she had a crazy idea that we were meant to have more intentional time together, I could say no, it was okay. What she didn’t tell me was Pastor Chris had preached, she listened, she was acting. She heard him say something about not just praying for people but taking the step to reach out. Or something. I wasn’t there in the church to hear him. I was still avoiding God, like I was sure he had left me. I have since gone back to listen to old sermons, trying to hear what she did. I can’t find it. The Spirit whispered to Janet. Her faithfulness has changed my life. I didn’t say she was crazy, I told my husband she had offered to meet with me. I wanted to go. A lifeline was extended, I grasped it but didn’t shower or change out of pajamas. I was still barely breathing.
We met in her living room, she didn’t judge my appearance. She acted like I was whole, but applied balm to my broken parts. She nudged me, challenged me, was honest in a way I could hear. Her living room became my sanctuary, a place to meet God on my terms, or so I thought. I eased back into a relationship with Him, hers was so undeniable it made me yearn for my own. But could I really go back, back to trusting a God that would allow my daughter to go away? Hadn’t I suffered enough without that too? Janet allowed me to talk for a bit each meeting about my woes but we moved on to other parts of life. Other parts I had forgotten existed. I forgot about reading. I forgot about other people’s struggles. I forgot about gifts from God.
She introduced me to an author, only the introduction and first chapter were out, someone she followed via blog and podcasts. I read and God spoke directly to me. We had to do a study at church, we needed to share this. Church where I wasn’t even going. She smiled, agreed, her thoughts exactly. We began to plan, meals were added, a children’s component. It became a thing, so big, so beautiful, I didn’t have time to stay in bed, I showered. The author, Steve Wiens, was approachable, so we approached. Emails were exchanged, he offered to make a video invitation to join the study for our church. We started meeting at Panera. I began planning meals.
Our study of the book Beginnings was life changing for the participants and has brought a new model of studies into our church. The success of this group has reverberated throughout, new leaders have emerged, lives have changed. We are planning the next study in late winter, the church is planning many groups around our model. I keep getting called to attend meetings there, as if I am a valued person. I sometimes wonder if they don’t know I was just in bed this time last year, I wasn’t at church. But then I remember they do know, that is the point. God took such a broken person and brought new life. I cannot express how much Steve’s book changed me. The book is so beautiful, so rich, sometimes it hurts. It sits on my desk, I don’t know how many times I have read it, passages marked, words arousing a need to act that cannot be ignored. Steve listened to God’s whispers, creating a revolution of beginners.
Janet is an artist, so deeply gifted in many mediums. One of her projects was broken pots, clay she had shaped, molded, created, fired, glazed. Beautiful pots she then broke and reassembled, cracks visible, light shining through. She donated all of these pots to our church, I took one home. I look at it everyday, remembering a God who lovingly created me and still wants light to shine through my broken places. I am still broken, still mourning the space where my daughter should be. I am also holding my brokenness up for the world to see, no longer hiding. God has glued me together in His wisdom, with His grace. He sent His angels, an artist and author. It is up to me to find the light. I am listening for my own whispers.