Can you remember much about 2020 before the pandemic? I can. I can remember how much optimism I had at the beginning of this new decade. 2020 was going to be my year! Remember that?
In February, I can’t remember the day, but the sky was pretending to snow, I went home for lunch and was surprised and grateful to find that my wife Lauren was home too. I’d had a tough day filled with the same internal turmoil I’d been living with for the past few years, and especially the past few months. “I just need to lay down for a minute,” I said, and went over to the couch and pulled a pillow over my head. As I lay still, a familiar thought arose in my mind. This particular thought had become more and more persistent in recent months. Each time the thought arose, I was able to push it away and say to myself, “Maybe one day, but not today.”
On this particular day, I pulled the pillow away from my head and looked up at my wife and said, “Well, I’ve gotta go to Div. School.”
Lauren smiled and simply said, “Yep.”
I’ll never forget how she said that. I felt a sustaining sense of peace in that moment.
And so, I called admissions offices at southern divinity schools and scheduled visits and meetings, all of which were quickly canceled due to the pandemic. In June, I enrolled at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, though I’ve never stepped foot on the campus (and likely won’t for some time). Also in June, I began the process for becoming a candidate for ordination (as an elder) with the Western North Carolina Conference (with some timely help from the North Georgia Conference as well).
There is no way that I can imagine myself coming to this change in my life’s direction absent the profound influence of First UMC, Waynesville. I am part of a truly one of a kind staff that has always pushed me to reach higher. I am blessed beyond measure by ministers, retired and active, who’ve been willing to share their wisdom and honesty and prayers. More than anything, I am glad to be part of this body of Christ that has given me inspiration in worship, power in ministry, comfort in sorrow, and a heart full of joy and gratitude.
I don’t know that the future will look like. At the moment, I have a bunch of reading to get through and even more institutional college stuff to figure out. I’ve been out of the game for some time! For now, I am staying at FUMC and taking classes online. Beyond that, I don’t know much. But, I know that 2020 is not over. I know that God is calling me, which must mean that God is also calling you. I hope that I will always have the wisdom to follow my wife’s lead, to look into the unknown future, a future that might just change everything, and smile and simply say, “Yep.” That’s my hope for you too.