Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Secret Lives of Pastors' Wives: Honey, I'm home! (redux)

***An incomplete and unproofed version of this was accidentally posted last night. This is the (hopefully) corrected and complete version***

I posted the other day about thinking that my husband had come to some horrible end while running at night. I really don't usually sit around and think about such morbid things. As a general rule, I am not a worrier. I used to be, but Jesus freed me from that several years ago. I wouldn't say that I never worry, but certainly not to the extent that I used to. Formerly, I was one of those people who worried about things to worry about. However, there are periods of time in which I do think about what I would do if some horrible tragedy befell us.

Back when I was a young mom and we didn't have cell phones, Robert would be gone a lot in the summer due to youth ministry. He had camp and mission trips and retreats. If he was gone a week, we'd probably talk once or twice on the phone during the week. This was because he had to find a payphone, the odds of us being at home when he called were slim, etc. Also, neither one of us are big phone people. We'd rather catch up in person, face to face. I do need to know what Robert is doing every second of the day and while I miss him, I don't sit and pine away the whole time he is gone. He doesn't when I am out of town either. All of this to say, that when he is out of town I don't know where he is and what he is going at all times. I have an itinerary and I know generally when to expect him home. The situation hasn't changed much with the advent of cell phones because most camps and things are in remote areas.

So, anyone who knows anything about youth ministry knows that broken down buses and other such travel snags are par for the course. There were those times that the van was supposed to pull into the church parking lot at 7:00 pm and it's 10 and still no bus. It was those times that panic coursed through my veins. In my head I knew that they had gotten lost or had a flat tire or the event ended late, but sometimes my irrational female hysteria would take over and convince my more rational self that the van had a blowout or the bus flipped a guardrail on a bridge and everyone had plummeted to their death.

Once they finally pulled safely into town and I had given my husband a relieved hug, the pragmatist in me, had a horrifying thought...What would I really do if something tragic happened and I found myself a single parent. I don't dwell on such negative thoughts, but I was a Girl Scout, so I like to be prepared and it got me thinking. So, I started discussing it with Robert and never could come to any conclusions. It became a running joke with us. Every time he came home from being out of town without me he would ask, "So where were you going to live if something happened and I didn't make it home?"

See, here's the deal. We've always lived away from our families. We have teased our parents that we have a rule that we have to at live at least a four hour radius from them. Actually, that's been pretty accurate. At any rate, we have lived in towns and cities with no familial attachment. We lived in Missouri when I first realized that I was a man woman without a country. I loved living in the Mayberry-esque town of Carthage, MO. We had an awesome 100-year-old Victorian house on a large corner lot on Main Street. I loved that house. We had wonderful friends, Adam was at a fabulous school 1/2 a block away. We were living an awesome contented life, but I knew if I were a single parent that I probably wouldn't have stayed there. The boys were both young; they were 4 and 6 when we left Missouri. My parents were in St. Louis, four hours away, at the time. My in-laws were in Saraland, AL. I guess I would have probably moved to the St. Louis because I would have needed the support with the kids and for myself, but I had no friends there and it wouldn't have been home.

So then we moved to Baton Rouge and it was never home to me. I didn't like living in Baton Rouge at all. I tried to. I really gave it an honest shot. I would drive around and list things to be thankful for: the Spanish moss hanging from 200-year-old oaks, azaleas and camellias, awesome food, a wonderful job, our church, etc. However, the constant keeping up with the Joneses, the oppressive heat, the flying cockroaches, the traffic, the private schoolness of it all just grated on me. Although I never liked Baton Rouge, I appreciate and am very thankful for our 7 years there. We learned things that radically changed us and have totally changed our thinking about and approach to ministry. We had incredible neighbors, co-workers, youth, and friends who have graced our lives and made them richer. However, I never felt safe at night. I never felt comfortable. I never felt quite at home. I knew that if it weren't for Robert that I couldn't stay in Baton Rouge.

By this time my parents and brother were in Mobile, AL about 30 minutes away from my in-laws. I love Mobile! I went to college in Mobile, we lived there as newlyweds, we had an awesome church there, and I still had a lot of friends in Mobile, as well as family. However, it just didn't feel quite right anymore. I was a visitor now, just passing through. My sister was still in my hometown of Dothan, AL. I was born and raised in Dothan. I was there from birth until my parents moved when I was a junior in college. However, I could never go back. I just didn't (don't) fit in Dothan anymore and it doesn't fit me. There is a part of the song Painting Pictures of Egypt by Sara Groves that kind of sums up my feelings about my hometown:

But the places that used to fit me
Cannot hold the things I've learned
And those roads closed off to me
While my back was turned

So I remained homeless in the deep roots sense of the word. Everywhere that we had ever lived we had moved to because of either seminary or Robert's job. I enjoyed most of the places that we lived and all of the experiences. I have wanderlust, so my feet itch and I have liked moving every 6 or 7 years. However, that has left me without any place that has truly felt like home in the deep, abiding sense of the word. However, last week when I awoke in a cold sweat worried about my husband, I had an epiphany. After I was assured of his safety and well-being I fell back asleep at utter peace and in total contentment. I just realized it. Here in central Wisconsin, I am finally home.

This is where we were meant to be. This is place that our life experiences have prepared us for. We have support systems in place through our church, our neighbors, my colleagues, and our friends. Our sons are thriving in school and have a great network of friends as well. We love the community, the four seasons, the activities, and the vibe. It feels so good to finally know that I am home.

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