I think it was a wedding ring that did it. Sitting across from me in the first class on the road to membership at my new church sat a woman with an exquisite wedding set. It must have recently been cleaned because it sparkled in the light. I suddenly became very aware of my empty finger…and so much more.
I pushed the thought aside. This was not a moment to think about the fact that it had been nine months ago tonight when I had lost him. This was a moment for the Discovery class to tell me if this was the church I hoped it was. This was time for me to hear what this church believed in and what the core values were from the senior pastor I was growing to respect and his wife, a new friend I already adored.
Katy is such a gifted encourager. No, that’s not the word. She’s welcoming. She’s hospitable. She makes you feel as though you are important, welcomed, and valued in her presence. She makes you feel as though you matter. It is a unique quality and I’d bet she has no idea this is what she exudes.
And still, as I listened, I couldn’t help but notice my empty ring finger.
It’s been months since I wore my wedding ring. It started to become loose in the cold temps and then it just didn’t feel right on my hand. I sometimes wear other rings on that finger. Tonight I moved one from the other hand and tried to focus.
As the evening went on, I found more reasons to be glad God brought me to this church. In all my years as a pastor’s wife and in the few when I served as a children’s pastor, I have never heard a senior pastor speak with such passion about the importance of children’s ministry. Pastor David was zealous about this ministry being where kids come to understand who Jesus is in an environment that is fun but does not sacrifice truth. This man of God valued ministry to children, teens, and young adults even if it meant we needed to cut funds to ministry to adults to make it happen. I’m not sure I can adequately convey how much I respected that.
The more the evening went on the more I felt absolutely sure this is the church home for me and my kids. This is a place where messy is OK. This is a place where questions are OK and faith is a journey we walk together. This is a place Kraig would have liked.
Afterwards, I couldn’t hold it together as well as I wanted so I simply whispered to Katy that tonight was 9 months. Her reply was a hug and to tell me she thinks I’m so brave. She wondered if this class, this process of membership would be hard. I told her I’d never joined a church as an adult without him. But the irony is that if he hadn’t died, I never would have had the privilege of finding this one. I got another hug.
It was a good day, all in all. Ryan felt loved on this, his 14th birthday. He missed his dad, he told me on our shopping trip for his gift. But only a little. I didn’t really focus on the date being a sad anniversary of sorts until the wedding ring. That’s probably good. It’s progress as I continue to move forward and breathe and live and trust God for what happens next.
So tonight I will fall asleep, resting a bit easier that I’ve found a fresh start in an amazing church. I will focus on the good from today and the happy memories of Kraig just like I tell the kids to do. And I will continue to trust that God has a plan more amazing than I can imagine.