When You Have to Go Home a Different Way
I know that I am about a month behind Epiphany but I have been thinking about the Wise Men this whole time. Mostly I have been thinking about how they had to go home a different way. I’d never much thought about it, about what a sacrifice that might have been for them. How they had maybe stayed with strangers who became friends and had told them about all the things they were going to go find. How maybe the people they stayed with on the way there were invested in the wisemen’s journey and how disappointing it may have been to the wisemen that they could not go and tell the people they had met about what God had shown them, how Jesus was real and they got to hold him. It never occurred to me that going home a different way meant giving up a lot of things you love.
Y’all. I don’t think I am going home the same way I came. While all of my friends from seminary are posting that they got through their ordination interviews, I posted my fathers eulogy. Grief is a strange beast. All the losses get mixed up and you end up crying about everything. Maybe that is just me. I expected my dad to be at my ordination. I expected to have one. I thought I would be coming home to my call in a church as an associate pastor, or a quirky church planter. I thought I would use his grandmothers Bible for that ceremony. My friend asked me if I thought he would somehow be disappointed about this sideways route to ministry and I laughed. Loving people where God puts you even if it isn’t a church setting is exactly what my dad raised me to do. He is the one who brought a four year old to an office with big red letters that said JESUS in the store front window and teeny tiny white ones that said “attorney at law on the door. Still. I wish things were a little easier.
There is a lot of loss when you have to go a different way home. So many touchstones you think you were coming back to. None of them will be there to comfort you. So many trail markers that won’t be on your path assuring you that you are headed in the right direction. So much new territory to find. No one tells you how much it stings when other people get to walk the path you thought you would also be on. There aren’t really maps out here in the wilderness, if no one has been this way, how do we know we are headed in the right direction? Maybe this is why so few people take it.
How do I know I am headed in the right direction is a question I ask myself a lot lately. You got an MDiv and now you want to manage a bar? Is a question I ask myself as incredulously as anyone else. But um, yeah. I do. Because I am finding that going this new way home means paying better attention, to myself, to what I am called to, to the ways I am walking and the ways I am received. I went to get an MDiv so I could serve God and my community, so I could be in a position to hold hope and sorrow with the people of my city, so I could create things of real tangible value to people, things that might actually make their lives better and allow them to live in the dignity they already posses as image bearers of God.
In seminary, on the second day of orientation I was sitting in the chapel as they were explaining that it was designed to look like a train station, a liminal space, a spot you aren’t supposed to be at forever. The Holy Spirit completely interrupted my musings, “Abby I know which ticket you think you have, I need you to know you are getting off at a different spot.” I had no idea they were still building the track to my final destination. This road is sometimes hard and weird. It is lonelier than I want it to be, but I think that might just be adulthood. For now, on my good days, I am learning to trust that going home a different way doesn’t mean you are lost. It just means God asked you to take a wider path.