For two weeks I am grandpa-in-residence with my daughter, Anna, son-in-law, Zack, and their new precious daughter, Josephine Kate or Josie, as we call her. I fell head-over-heels in love the first time I met her. She has one of those precious spirits. There was connection to her immediately. I spent that first week holding, feeding, changing, relating to her and helping out as I could around their house.
We went together to a church service on Wednesday night with a potluck and that was great. Then Sunday, we went to worship twice again.
I watched at church and the meals after as others had many roles. Caring for candles. Singing. Leading. Serving. Carrying the cross, the host, etc. Josie had many caregivers as well.
After morning liturgy I watched the relationships unfold, while sitting at the table with Zack and two other guys, listening while they were in a conversation about a planned fishing trip, while Anna and others organized the potluck. That’s when it hit me: “I don’t have a role here.” The realization sank deeply into me. No role. No function. No real relationships. And strangely no desire to try to forge them.
The image of a ship without a rudder came to mind. Was my identity so tied to work, that I have none apart from it?
I took my phone, stood, walked through the kitchen. The guys didn’t notice my departure. I was going to check in with Anna to let her know I’d be back, but she was in conversation with other friends preparing the banquet. So I just walked through the kitchen, up the back stairs, and out the side exit door. I didn’t close it all the way so I could return.
I opened the journaling app and began to write down what I felt. I had this sense of being without people or home. I was the stranger. The one with no connection to any of the people, other than my kids and granddaughter. And the surprising thing was I didn’t want a connection. I didn’t want to try to reach into someone’s life. I didn’t want to get to know anyone. I didn’t want to be responsible to seek to build bridges or connection. That’s where the idea of being rudderless came in–My roles gave me stability, direction.
I stood there in warm sun, writing, listening and received God’s clear word that I was enough, that I needn’t take on the people to know them. I could just be.
Jesus spoke this to me:
“Son. Make My life yours by being, by trusting, by again letting me be all you wish. You are enough child. The enemy would have you believe differently. Rest. Be. Walk.”
The word, the sun, the honesty before God, His love — freed me, remarkably.
I walked back into the room and sat down in same chair I’d previously occupied. But this time, I could sit in the chair and not be divided within. I could be there without the need for a role to feel I had value. Anna said– “There you are dad! You doing okay?”
“Great,” I could honestly answer. “So great.”
Somehow in that weird way of heart and soul, to admit what I felt, caused me to feel more centered, more engaged, more connected.
Immediately relationships birthed with some friends of Anna and Zack’s. I had an opportunity to share with one woman the discovery I had made — that Jesus not my tikes gave me identity.
Again at a later gathering at the park I found myself in four deep and significant conversations. I had a rudder after all. It was not my role that provided it. It had nothing to do with my job but had and has everything to do with my being. Who I am– that’s the place God starts. And who I am is enough.
As author Ann Kiemel Anderson used to say– “you and me and God and love. We are out to make a difference. And we can.”
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