We almost collided with each other in the ladies bathroom entrance. I was headed out, and my friend Alisha was headed in. Happy to run into each other, we started to talk. We continued our conversation as we left the church building, joined by Alisha’s friend, Jonathan. We hugged, said goodbye, and headed in different directions.
As she was walking away, Alisha said something to Jonathan that I overheard:
“I just LOVE her.”
“Today is going to require a lot of makeup,” I thought as I sat at my makeup mirror. A husband and wife at my church, people I had considered friends, had rejected me. They were leaders in my church and I both respected and trusted them. This was not just a minor bruise…I cried for 5 days. I even woke my husband up one morning, sobbing.
These beloved friends had deeply wounded my heart. In short, my heart hurt.
And on this Sunday morning I was going to see them for the first time since it happened. I was so broken that I wanted to stay home, but why delay the inevitable. So I put on a flashy shirt, lots of lip gloss, and a fake smile to mask my quivering heart.
“If you tell Lisa something, are you sure that she will not tell others?” the pastor asked his wife. They were dealing with a tricky church situation that could turn into a huge mess. Gossip needed to be minimized so that the situation could be dealt with privately. “Oh yes, Lisa is a vault.” This pastor’s wife trusted me with her secrets. I was her friend. She knew that I would pray for her and not gossip about her.
I can’t imagine what it is like to be a pastor’s wife. Your husband has a job in full-time ministry and is putting in more than a 40 hour workweek. Yet somehow the wife must also meet the many expectations of the church. She should lead the ladies ministry, graciously entertain church members at home, never show anger or weakness, and serve tirelessly. I’ve heard that is a lonely position, as the wife has few trusted friends in whom to confide when she is struggling.
Shame had kept me silent. Few people knew the intense battle I had been having with panic attacks. Not even my pastor was privy to the emotional upheaval that existed in my mind. My doctor knew because he was prescribing the medications that were helping me to function. But fear of judgment had kept me from telling people how bad it really was.
The smallest thing caused me to feel panic. I was scared to take a shower. I was scared to wash my hair (the picture below was not staged). I was scared to fix my breakfast and let the dog go out and fill up my Tervis with ice. Why? Because in previous days, when I had done those things, my body panicked and my pulse raced and my chest felt like I was having a heart attack.
I don’t have a job. I left my full time job as a nuclear engineer almost 20 years ago. At that time, I became a stay-at-home mom, and then, a homeschooling mom. Now that my last child has graduated from high school, I find that I am jobless. There is no need in my family for a stay-at-home mom, because children are no longer at home. There is no need for a homeschooling mom, because both my children have graduated from high school and are in college.
I find that this transition from stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to an jobless, empty nester is a challenge. I’m not ready for it, but it is upon me, and I can’t run from it. It has chased me down. So I must accept it. Help me Jesus.
I have been dreaming with God about what my dream job would be. I don’t want to be an engineer again, ever. Surprisingly, I don’t want to be a famous blogger and speak at TED Talks. I don’t want to open a eclectic shop and sell my happy note cards and creative garden art. When I did some soul searching and dug deep down, I discovered what I am truly passionate about doing. The answer surprised me.
What I really want to do is mentor. Full time.
The sea of faces flashed before me. Old faces, young faces. Black faces, white faces, Hispanic, and Asian faces. Male and female. Adults and teens. Some I knew well, some I didn’t know at all. Some had been faithful friends. Some had deserted me. And some had turned on me and stabbed me in the back.
They were all potential Facebook “Friends.”
It seems that the older I get the more I dress like my mother: bright colors, flashy jewelry, matching shoes. She’s a fashionable older woman who shops at Steinmart and Chico’s…you know the type! I haven’t yet started buying animal prints, but anything can happen! Add some “big hair” and lip gloss and I can be quite the sight! I know that we should not put so much stock in our outward appearance, but sometimes dressing up can help us to feel better. Here is me with some lip gloss: