Reflection on the ‘In-Between’ Times

In a few weeks, I HOPE to be able to make a post revealing our wonderful new condo, celebrating that the move-in process is officially complete, and expressing excitement over the start of our homeownership journey.

But, amidst that post, and other posts of joy, the public-facing reality of life’s daily hardships and grind gets lost. During my prayer time this morning, as I grappled and struggled with the anxiety, struggle, and fear of this time of tremendous upheaval and change, I felt convicted to share this reality: Moving sucks. Especially compounded with the stress of everyday life.

I thought it was important to share a post of the ‘in-between’ joyful posts because it is more honest. But also because it is in the moments of trials and tribulations that I find myself most cognizant of God’s power of love and care in my life, especially through the incredible tribe of family, friends, and holistic supports (yay therapy) around me. It is these ‘in-between times’ of day-to-day life, as well as the hardships, that make the joyful moments so divine.

And in these ‘in-between times,’ and times of hardships, I give thanks for the unceasing presence of God that so often shows up in the form of YOU. I give thanks for you and the community of support you have all been for Connor and me.

While I look forward to being able to make the joyful post about our completed move, I thought it was important to name that this is a very challenging time and that I’m struggling. And that is both okay and honest.

Life isn’t living from joy to joy, as our social media accounts seem to display, but being present with God, and one another, in all the times: joys, hardships, and the in-between.

Love, thanks, and blessings to you all!

A contextual adaptation of ‘United Methodist Book of Worship’ Blessing 548

This is the Pastoral Prayer I wrote for the May 24, 2022 Clergy Session of the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church.

God of eternal presence with us,

amidst all joy and pain,

guide us in this gathering today

as we tend to the grief of what we have lost

and as we celebrate the excitement of what is new and expanding.

This gathering today may revive in us memories of loved ones, colleagues, and friends who are no longer with us today.

May we take time to tend to this grief

and remember the happy memories we shared together

while they were still with us.

In the next few moments, may we speak the names of those whom we have lost out loud OR quietly in our hearts.

[Speak out-loud or reflect]

Lord, thank you for the time we had to share with these beloved people.

May our memories together be a blessing until we meet again.

Three years have passed, and yet we still feel the looming presence of the pandemic.

May we take time to acknowledge this grief,

remembering and honoring what has been lost:

plans, justice, communities, dignity, events, rights, services.

In the next few moments, may we speak that which has been lost out loud OR quietly in our hearts.

[Speak out-loud or reflect]

Lord, thank you for your constant presence with us during this time, weeping along with us and our communities.

May we continue to rely on your boundless love as our strength as we continue to care for our congregations, communities, families, and selves.

During these three years, we have also encountered new persons, deeper relationships, and the expansion of families.

May we take time to tend to these joys,

holding the faces and names,

of those we have met and grown to cherish and love.

In the next few moments, may we speak the names of those whom we have met out loud OR quietly in our hearts.

[Speak out-loud or reflect]

Lord, we name these relationships with gratitude, and we bless them.

May we continue to tend, cherish, and rejoice in the beloved people and relationships whom you have placed in our lives today.

These three years have been marked by forced innovation and change.

May we take time to acknowledge the good that has come from the Holy Spirit

helping us to expand and imagine our communities in exciting new ways,

emphasizing justice, dignity, accessibility, safety, and creativity.

In the next few moments, may we speak the good out loud OR quietly in our hearts.

[Speak out-loud or reflect]

Lord, thank you for the innovative power of your Holy Spirit, leading and guiding us in these times of profound change.

May we find strength from your Holy Spirit, and from one another, to continue the ministry work to which you have called us.

God among us,

our unrelenting listener,

we give you thanks for this time to share

our griefs and joys with you.

Bless us, keep us, and inspire us

in the great work to which you have called us –

yesterday, today, and tomorrow –

in collaboration, accountability, and support

with You,

with our ministry communities,

and with our colleagues here today.

In Your name,

we rejoice and praise.

Amen.