I’ve often joked that the pieces of my story don’t easily fit together in one life. I was a civil engineering major in college, an officer in the military, a seminarian and later a pastor. I lived in seven states in my adult life (which means I’ve moved frequently) am a father to two kids both very bright. I had to figure out how I would raise my son who is high functioning autistic and be a long distance father to my daughter after my divorce. I had to figure out how to date again in my late 30s and early 40s and then learn how to be married again after being single for five years. I’ve had to go back to the moments of crisis and learn from them, seeing the ways in which they knit together all the different pieces of the story. How the heartbreaks could lead to a new place of wholeness and healing and how the transitions became the opportunity for new beginnings and adventures. It hasn’t always been easy but overall it has been good. I wouldn’t be the person that I am today without any one piece of my story, but my story is (hopefully) far from over and I have a lot I still want to write.
In many respects I am amazed at how far I have come. The journey has changed me in drastic ways but I am proud of who I have grown to be. I may not always be the hero in my own narrative, life is more complex than that, but I feel like I have grown wiser in the joy and suffering of my life. There are times where I regret the opportunities to show kindness that I turned away from but I am also cherish the times where I was compassionate enough to see another’s need and not to turn away. There may be times where I was an easy mark, where forgiveness left me vulnerable to being hurt again and yet, I wouldn’t change that. That is a part of the person I want to be, a person who can see the best in others and can hope to make a difference in some small way.
Perhaps the learning comes from the way in which I have allowed myself the grace to be the complex mosaic of stories and experiences and feelings that I am. Rather than trying to mold myself into some monolithic image to allow the plurality of facets of myself to be seen. Perhaps a part of the difference between the immediate emotion and the later understanding of the broader story comes in the forgiveness I can extend to others and me, in learning to be open to not just giving help but receiving it. Perhaps in learning the story of my own heart and claiming it I have found the courage to own my stories and to enjoy living with them not in some nostalgic way, longing to return to the past, but more as pieces of a journey that brought me to the place I am today.