Today I turn 41, and I just realized that we moved here 10 years ago, so I’m feeling a bit reminiscent. It was in June 2001 that we moved from Vancouver, BC to Louisville, KY so that I could attend Southern Seminary and work toward my Ph.D. What a journey the last 10 years has been! I am sure I never would have chosen it had I known what it would involve: losing two parents to cancer, countless dreams crushed, 8+ years of Dark Night (and ongoing), perpetual relational and financial poverty, etc. Wow, what an inspiring list! Maybe I should make some greeting cards:
“Here’s hoping God deals more gently with you than he has with me”
“Don’t hold your plans too tightly – God will likely pull them out from under you, but God bless!”
Looking over the last 10 years can easily overwhelm me again with sorrow over what has been lost. I wish I could say I’ve made better “progress” against the massive presence of the remaining dark night where very little makes sense and there is very little hope that anything will improve.
Lest you think despair is all I’m feeling, I must say that there are also seeds of gratitude, mainly revolving around two areas:
1) How God has used these years to change me into an entirely different person. I would not recognize (or like!) the Scott Holman that came to Louisville in 2001. In some ways, I’m much more burdened, but in other ways much more free. Free from the bottomless pit of earning the performance required for “today’s ministers.” I’m much less certain than I used to be, much less black and white about life and theology and how it plays out in the everyday. Quite literally, the things I despised then I adore and cling to now (and vice versa) as necessary for survival (things like spiritual readings, meditative prayer, retreats, psychological insights, etc.)
2) My wife, children and a few choice friends have become very precious to me. When the bottom of your life falls out (and especially when it continues to fall out over the span of years) you realize how flippant and superficial most “Christian community” is. You also realize that if you don’t have a few trusted safe friends to journey with, you will not make it. Some of my greatest sorrows are here as well, with friends bailing on me when things got too dark and messy. Also, the reality of relational obscurity being a regular component to this journey has made things much more difficult (we don’t fit in well with the Christian community most of the time because we just can’t play the games emotionally, physically or financially, so we can quickly get somewhat “blacklisted.”)
10 years later I wish I were more loving, patient and self-controlled, trusting implicitly in the Father’s care. But frankly, there are days (and weeks!) where I can barely manage to survive without hurting myself or anyone else. I have some inklings as to why God led me on this journey and what he’s up to; but most of the time they don’t even begin to explain it sufficiently to make it “ok” let alone “good.” Maybe someday I’ll come to see this season that way.
So, my offering of “thanks” after 10 years is what it is – a mixture of light and dark. I am indeed thankful that I know God better than when I started, and have had the privilege of walking alongside some of the most amazing people God has ever created (esp. my amazing wife – I can never say enough praise to do her justice). But I also look forward with fear and trepidation, afraid to hope or dream again, never sure of where my feet are stepping, just trying to evade the doom that I sometimes feel surely awaits me.
Here I am, Jesus. For better or for worse? I don’t know, but I do know that you will accept me no matter how dark and messy I get.