Yesterday my husband, boys and I woke up before dawn and drove 3.5 hours to see our daugther for her university’s Family Weekend. After spending an hour redirecting Siri around campus since the streets were closed off for game day, we finally found parking and… our girl. But by this time the morning tailgates were ending and everyone was heading to the stadium. So really, we did all that and paid parking for nothing.
We had choosen not to buy game tickets so instead we went to a local favorite restaurant of hers and waited an hour to be seated. It was worth the wait (though the boys were starving!) and ended up being the best part of the day.
After lunch we stopped by her apartment for a bit before the Dad’s Day gathering at her sorority house. With a house of well over 400 girls + parents and siblings though, it’s easy to eat up time looking for friends and their families. Even if/when you find them it’s a hard place to enjoy leisurely and substantial conversations. But with that, it was time for us to drive the 3.5 hours back home. And that’s when the tears filled her eyes…
Everyone else was still with their parents and would be for the evening. They would also be with them again for breakfast, and had been with them the night before. They were having a true Parents’ Weekend. Our daughter- she only got us for a few hours.
Leaving is never easy, but it felt extra hard knowing in this case it was because work couldn’t be de-prioritized. For those who don’t know, my husband is a pastor. And for a pastor regardless of what is going on in his personal world and with the family, the sermon goes on. I share this simply to let you in on the “In Real Life” reality of a ministry family. Not so you feel sorry for us, but to tell you the nature of my husband’s calling as a pastor creates unique challenges for our family and at times, like yesterday, it is really hard.
My daughter wanted more time with us and we wanted more time with her. None of us could do anything about it- this time. (Our associate pastor is already preaching next week.) There are other times our kids don’t get all of my husband, or all of me (mentally or physically), because we are preoccupied with the duties and/or emotions of ministry. It’s just not a job you leave behind, which is why it’s a calling. But the calling of a pastor is not just his, but a calling for the family. Not always a calling we like, or truthfully feel adequate of.
So though you may see us sitting on the front row and think we have it all together that is far from the truth. Our smiling faces sometimes betray what’s really going on in our hearts. At times there is bitterness, sadness, frustration, lonliness, tiredness, selfishness, the desire to hide, escape or avoid. And like everyone else, we struggle to balance family and work life, and often fail.
But at the same time all of this is true, what else is true is God is at work through this calling to shape and mold each of us- my husband, me and our kids. He has each of us in mind. For this I’m thankful. And for this we must each fall back on when our expectations and desires don’t go as we want. All these circumstances unique to us, I trust he is using for our good. And by his grace for his glory too.