Over the past eight years I have participated in many different bible studies with one of my closest friends. It is a thread that has laced throughout our friendship. We have gone to different churches in different seasons. There were seasons when we sat holding our babies; now we have wide open mornings while those babies are at school. She and I have walked together through some of the darkest days you could imagine, and also through great times. She is one of my people in every sense of the word.
Since I am no longer a pastor’s wife, it has been difficult to re-engage at church, but I’m trying. So this fall we decided to do a small group study together.
It is a small class of 10-12 women, varying in age. The very first day the leader got up and asked us to introduce ourselves. She asked that we each share the following information with the group:
1) Your married name, along with your maiden name
2) About your family
3) What you do
These are the simplest questions, yet they are all difficult for me to answer. Immediately I started blinking back the tears. I consider the exit but it would make too much commotion if I got up.
There are eight ladies ahead of me to share. I try to practice my breathing techniques and think about roses and unicorns while I wait for my turn. How hard could it be to introduce myself? Just when I think I’m fine, some little thing pops up and shows me how not-fine I really am. Or maybe I am fine, just a more emotional version of fine?
My friend shares right before me. Her own introduction is very difficult. Listening to her share about her family is always heart wrenching, but she does it with dignity.
All eyes turn to me. I take a deep breath and launch. Before I state my name I’m choked up. Eventually I say what my married name was. Then I squeak out that I am divorced. My face burns with shame and sadness. I list each of my precious children by name and age. Finally I am to the last question: what do I do?
Yes, what do I do?
That is not an easy one either. I don’t exactly know what I do, or what I’m doing. I’m working on it. I’m working on all of it. I’m working on being fine, and I’m working on helping my kids be fine, and I’m working on my heart and my perspective. I’m working on being a good friend and showing up for people I love. I’m working on doing laundry more often, walking 10,000 steps a day, writing every day, and wrestling with my faith. I’m working on how to support my family, pursue my passions, feed my hobbies and still fix dinner. I’m working on it. But what do I do? Do any of those count?
“I’m not sure exactly what I do, I’m working on it.” I finally say. I’m still sniffling. I’m embarrassed. I hate that I fell apart.
I’m working on that too.
Gratefully, the group moves on. I pull it together for the rest of the class. I leave thinking that in the end, it has gone alright. But I am wrong. I don’t know how wrong until I get a phone call a few weeks later. I know the caller meant well.
It didn’t go well.
I will tell you more tomorrow…