I walked into the house. ‘How to save a life’ by The Fray was playing through the speakers. I was pitched back in time to this day in 2013 when I was getting ready to go away with my children for a week. I’d been to the shops and we’d joked that so long as we had chocolate bars we’d be ok for food. It was the first week of the school summer holidays. I was deep in the creative planning for a children’s holiday club. That first week we were going to a christian festival. A soundtrack accompanied the summer of 2013. ‘How to save a life’ was part of it.
The feelings of today are not dissimilar to three years ago. I’m in the midst of packing and planning and organising for a week of creative engagement with teenagers and God. I’m going away with my children, but not my husband. I’m excited and nervous, with too much to do and not enough time to do it, but also with a sense that whatever happens, it will be ok.
But I haven’t been playing that same soundtrack. It’s no longer part of my life.
You see back then, the excited and nervous feelings came from the fact that he was going to be there. ‘the other’. He was going to spend a week living just a few tents away from me. Without my husband there, he was going to offer to help me when I needed an extra pair of hands, or a hug on a wet morning. And later that summer he and I were running the kids club – our shared vision and creativity had cemented our friendship months before, and allowed our growing closeness to continue under the cover of church work.
That first week of the summer in 2013 brought things to a point of no return. From then on followed months of deception and failed attempts to do the right thing, until finally 6 months later, my life was unrecognisable. My marriage was almost over and I thought my life might as well be too.
The next year I didn’t go to the christian festival week with my children. I doubt we’ll ever return. For three summers now I’ve declined the invitations to help with the children’s holiday club. But tomorrow I am doing a new thing. I’m leaving home to help with a holiday. It’s a week when we’ll invite a group of teens to develop their creative selves and engage with the most creative being – God our father. I’m excited and nervous and loving the feeling of doing this again; allowing my whole self to engage in loving God and loving others.
Although my husband isn’t coming with me, unlike three years ago I expect we will speak every day. I will miss him, and he will miss me. This morning as our family prepared to disperse we stood in our kitchen – pyjamed or dressed for the last day of school, and we prayed. We prayed for our family. We thanked God for each other. We prayed for our closeness to remain even though we’ll be apart. We asked God for blessing .
I wish I hadn’t lost those past three years to misery, pain and despair. I wish that I had trusted God when I felt so lost and lonely. I wish that I hadn’t done what I did. It only brought destruction.
But I know that God works all things together for those who love Him, who’ve been called according to His purpose, and that there are no shortage of begin agains, and new days, and forgivenesss and grace.
I’m standing on that platform today. A platform of grace and love. And I’m testifying to the goodness of God and my regret that I didn’t trust that He knew and loved me. I’m testifying to just how ugly life is without Him. I’m testifying to how good it feels to do things with a clean conscience and no hidden motives.
This journey is hard. It’s still hard. I trip and fall most days, but there is not one part of me wishes I was back where I was in 2013.
I haven’t written much for a while – I’ve been really busy but I had to write today.
This is a marker on the way. A reminder of where I’ve been. A reminder of where I am.
A celebration of today and life and love and grace and forgiveness.