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Friday, January 8, 2010

.I Don't Know How the Story Ends.

I am not really sure what to call this period in our life. It is definitely a stretching and growing of our faith, so I think I will stick with that: our faith story.
To catch up read here and here and here.

I am not sure where to start, how to untangle the plot to share how it has gotten to the climax we are facing today. I wasn't sure if I should share, but God has been impressing upon my heart that it's important that I do. Maybe He wants me to write it out, so that I can once again see for myself His gentle hand clutching ours and drawing us along. Or maybe He wants me to share because someone out there in this big blogosphere needs to hear our story. I don't really know, but tonight in the solitude of my home, while my children soundly sleep and my husband is away at one of his very last camp retreats, I am compelled to, at the very least, begin our story.

I think one of the hardest parts of all of this for me is not knowing the ending. As a child, an avid reader for almost as long as I can remember, I always had to know the ending of a story. I had to see that it would work out and be a happy ending, before I could bare to read the turmoil and heartache that the story's characters would have to face in order to get to their happy ending. I'm still like that with novels at times - I just have to take a peak at that final chapter. I just have to know how the story ends. Sometimes it isn't happy, and sometimes I prefer to read a more realistic story that ends unresolved rather than neatly tied in a bow, but I am not certain that is an option I want to consider for our ending.

And this time, with a story so personal - with our story, I have no idea how it ends. Will we get to the happy ending? And if so, what will the cost be along the way?

I guess I need to back up and start at the beginning. It's pretty simple, but even going back to the first chapter, I can now see how the threads have weaved together this tapestry of our life. Because way back at the beginning, the very first page opened to the very same camp that Jim resigned from on Monday. It was the summer of 97. He was 16, I was 17, just kids -both of us on support staff for a summer at a Christian camp. I cleaned toilets and scrubbed showers, he cleaned dishes and scrubbed pots and pans. We fell in love in the Snack Shack over Gobstoppers and Tootsie Rolls, and from that summer on our stories started to intertwine and weave into one story.

We went on to college. The same Bible college. Jim wanted to be a pastor. We talked of it and we dreamed of it. But Jim was a different person then - young, naive, and without a heart for people. (He admits this, and would be the first to share this, and because it is now my story to share too, I do so without reservation.) He cared more about a person's intellect than about a person. My husband, who would readily say this then, but is much, much humbler and broken in this area now, is a very intelligent man. He poured his life into his studies in college, and for a big part, this was to his advantage. He still retains so much of the Greek, Hebrew, and theology classes that he so loved. His head was so very ready to be a pastor, he had so much of the knowledge that would be key in that role. But Jim's heart wasn't there. He struggled with arrogance and with being able to relate to people on a personal level.

Before you think I am being rather tough on my dear husband, please know that I was a far cry from being ready to be a Pastor's wife. I was timid and shy. The thought of being a mentor, a discipler to other women, or even opening our home to people was enough to put me in a panic. I didn't like having many friends. I always wanted and needed one semi-close friend, but even then it was a lot of effort to be transparent and I seldom was. More friends would be too much work, too much would be required of me. (I still struggle and battle this even to this day, just not to quite the same extent.) I didn't want to open myself up to a lot of people, to develop relationships with them. I always feared what others would think of me, that I didn't quite measure up. I was never the popular one, the smart one. I wasn't a conversationalist. I would rather study people, watch and be alone than make myself vulnerable and develop real relationships with them. And that manipulative, control that I spoke of here was beginning to take root in my heart. Even before we were married (we were married the summer before Jim's senior year of college) I was already using my words to manipulate my desires into our relationship.

Here we were two Bible college graduates. One lacking a heart for people, and one being too concerned about what others might think to take the time and effort to truly care about people, and we thought we were ready for ministry.

God had other plans and other chapters to write. Our story had just begun.


MamaBear said...

Thank you for sharing your heart with us Tiffany. We've walked that road of the unknown and had NO idea that God would lead us to our campground and wonderful home. WE had different plans, but His were SO much better. Keep doing what you're doing!

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing!
It is neat to hear your backgrounds, and it helps for when I pray for you.

I can relate about opening your home to others and discipling women; that would panic me as well. I'll pray that God continues to give you confidence in this area (I gathered that you used to have this problem but don't anymore?).
Oh, and I can relate to the "friends" part of your post. I have struggled with this as well.
It is always interesting to see that others go through the same problems- there is nothing new under the sun.

Carrie said...

Oh, Tiffany, I really WAS behind on your blog!!! God is really working in your lives, as He has been, but in a different way now - and again, I'm so proud of you for surrendering to Him - I will be praying for you! Really enjoyed reading this first chapter of your story & can't wait to read the rest!

I'm so glad we're friends online so we can stay in touch even though we won't see you at camp conferences in the future. :)

Mandi said...

Know that God WILL direct! It may be soon or a year from now, but His mercies and provisions WILL abound and blow you away! Brad and I went through a year or 2 of this prior to coming to IA and looking back those are the sweetest days!
Excited for your journey, praying with you along the way...

Anonymous said...

Hi! We don't know each other personally, but I can't wait to hear more on the paths that our Lord leads you on! Thanks for sharing!


Sara said...

I think that there are very few bible college gradituates that are ready to do ministry right after graduation. there is so much left to learn about caring for others, about serving Christ, about learning to love, learning to be discipled as well as learning to disciple that one can't possibly fully learn behind a desk at school.

But God is so faithful and will finish unto completion the good work he has started in all of us. Thank you for sharing your heart, for being willing to humble yourself and share your story. For saying "We are only where we are today because of Christ."

Thanks for all of the encouragment that you are.

Theresa said...

Thank you so much for your sharing, Tiffany. Though the circumstances are different, God is growing you in so many of the heart-areas I struggle with daily. I am terrified to be challenged in those spaces and your obedience breaks my heart for my own shortcomings. Praise God for his grace! I am praying for you and your family and again, am so thankful for your honest sharing. :o))

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