Friends, books, and labyrinths… These are a few of my favorite things.
I fell in love with labyrinths when my husband was a youth minister in Brandon, Mississippi. The labyrinth at Crossgates UMC is one of the best gifts life has given me.
My husband has been doing youth ministry for twenty years. In that time, he also did college and young adult ministry and other things, but he was primarily a youth pastor. For the last thirteen years, I have been with him at four churches, involved in the lives of more teens than I can count. I didn’t always love the job, but I always loved the man God called to do that job, and my life would be less than without the people who walked alongside us in each new place.
My husband isn’t a youth minister anymore.
As of this summer, he’s a church planter.
As of this summer, we live in a new town and we are meeting new people and one dear friend has been brought back into our lives. That’s how a labyrinth works. Paths part ways only to rejoin when you least expect them.
For the first time in thirteen years, Corey isn’t preparing Wednesday night worship and Bible Study. He isn’t scrambling to find Sunday school teachers who can handle junior high boys. His calendar isn’t jam-packed with footballs games, band concerts, and school plays. He’s home with us more than he’s gone anywhere at all.
Possibly, you heard the audible sigh of relief that escaped our family’s collective lungs.
I know this is a pause. Church planting will come with its own crazy schedule… its own hours of prep work… it’s own scramble to find small group leaders, etc…
To prepare, I bought The Church Planting Wife by Christine Hoover. I go into this read hesitantly, because I rarely love the Christian self-help genre. It’s often cheesy and full of phrases that no one understands outside of the church world, phrases I have heard so often they cease to have meaning for me. And I’ll admit the title irked me. Why not The Church Planting Spouse? How come no husbands of church planters were interviewed?
But here’s the thing: the women sharing their stories in this book, regardless of denomination or politics or career, have all done what I am doing. There will be wisdom found within these pages.
Whenever my life is rerouted, I turn to books. I love reading memoirs to better understand other people. Look Me In The Eye by John Elder Robison helped me parent my son on the Autism spectrum way more than any of the books that were supposed to help me parent him. Back then, I also read a lot from the Chosen Families blog, because I needed to hear from other moms facing what I was facing.
Whenever your life is rerouted, you can rest assured, your new path is not one that has stood untraveled for centuries. There are other people walking your way. Some are far ahead of you, and you can call to them. They can guide you. Some people will join the path right alongside you, and they will be invaluable in surviving whatever crazy comes your way. Later, you will look back and see new people taking the scary first steps you once took. Reach out to them. Show them the way.
It’s like walking a labyrinth in a group setting. The path is often only wide enough for one person, but raise your eyes. The path is a circle, many circles, and there will always be another pilgrim just an arm’s length away.
I’ve been a youth pastor’s wife for thirteen years. I like to think I got pretty good at it. I was confident in my role most of the time, and I knew what to expect around each corner.
All of that has changed now. We are the church, its only members for a while, and so no one showed up with casseroles to welcome us. There is no network of youth parents surrounding us in our new home, excited to get to know us and see what the future holds.
I feel just a little untethered, but not entirely. Not entirely, because the friends we made in the last thirteen years have not gone away, and new friends are already appearing on the horizon. I’m standing at the entrance to a new path, a new labyrinth, and God’s people are never more than an arm length away.
*originally published on Middle Places