Inner Endings

inner endings

In a crisp July breeze off the North Atlantic Ocean, I stood shaking, watching our beautiful daughter walk toward the arbor she and her dad crafted for her wedding day. A month later on a balmy Houston day our son beckoned with his eyes his bride to the altar. Then a short few months after that another son longingly awaited the love of his life’s hand in the December beauty of Rome, GA. Within six months, three of our four kids married! (Our second son had found his love five years before and was expecting our first grandchild.)

These poignant life moments were at the same time exhilarating and disorienting. The endings this year for me have been weighty.  

“All endings require inner work.”Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero

These events meant the end of family as we had known it. The end of assumed holiday gatherings as they had been. The end of an era of coming alongside our adult single kids finding their way. Though many sweet beginnings are embedded in these, I had to let the losses sink in.  

We recently handed over our ten-year leadership position to a great and competent colleague as we sensed God’s leading, pulling us toward deeper local involvement. The hand-off took place over a month ago. The lives we were part of leading, the feeling of being in the know, the beautiful and brutal (as one friend puts it) issues at hand in our region are now off our radar. Though we felt the relief of a new, energetic leader in place, we also felt the dizziness of the change.

Who are we now? How do we relate to those we previously led? How do we best steward the things God has entrusted to us?

While these are being answered in the process and in community, we flounder a bit as we stay in place geographically while leaving our position of leadership. 

We also said goodbye to my Father-in-law. His death hit me like a scowl. I wasn’t close to him yet respected the godly and stalwart life he led. After wading through – with my husband and his siblings – the relics of his life, I saw there was so much more to him than I knew. I felt ashamed of having somewhat put him in a box; regret that I didn’t find out more about him, though ambiguous as to how I could have. The expressions on faces in old pictures felt piercing and questioning.

This became a wandering ogre of thought mulling how things could’ve or should’ve been; thinking of our absences and lack of engagement in each other’s lives mostly because of a half-a-globe of distance away. The creep of regret was subtle and spreading, wanting attention. So, I wrote and prayed and talked and cried, handing the mess to the One who redeems messes. The One who sits with us in the mire and rearranges us as He holds out his hand to walk us out.

I think I’m still on that walk, but very thankful that even in the mire we can still have His Shalom.

And in that Shalom I’m seeing His surrounding invitation, like to the exiles in Babylon, to embrace where I am with everything in me; the stage, the age, the limits and opportunities. To engage with Him in new and deeper ways. That’s my new name: Engaged.  

Engaged.  

As you encounter losses, what regret is trying to take you captive into its mire?

6 Comments

  1. Karen June 13, 2019

    This could have been me writing this article as I have had almost the same experiences. Our fourth child is getting married in December with three already married and three adult sons left. I am finding the time across the ocean from all our adult children very difficult. Since they went to boarding school in high school, we missed so much of their lives during that time as well. I have no doubt that our decisions have been directed by God but there is grief none-the-less. I have been acknowledging it during these last few years, but that ache to be close can still be so strong. And to be apart from our three precious grandchildren doesn’t help either. My husband’s godly father has also gone to be with the Lord, and I have regret that I didn’t take more time to get to know him better when we were on furloughs. I look forward to rectifying that in Heaven. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Jacqueline Scott June 13, 2019

      Karen, May our regret push us to Him and take us to new places in our hearts! May God “restore the years that the locust has eaten.” Blessings and wisdom to you as you work toward connection with those you love even from a distance.

  2. Becca June 13, 2019

    Its so sweet to hear the voice of someone in the same season of this overseas life! Thank you for sharing your story & wise
    words of experience & processing. My husband & I are walking through a very similar season with young adult college & married children & the deaths of father & father-in-law. We have mothers who are living & we aren’t there to care for them. (So grateful for siblings who do!) We’re also transitioning into a role that’s in the shadows of nationals now after many years in the forefront. It’s bittersweet. We’re watching & waiting & still working while He redefines our foreseeable future. We knew these days were coming, always attempting to work ourselves out of these roles, just as we knew we’d one day deal with death & family dispersing across the oceans. It’s another difficult, complicated transition- really the hardest yet! I’m thankful for your story & VA for adding this perspective & timeframe that’s relevant to many of our lives. Or will be one day for those who stay. Peace & grace to you, Jackie.

  3. Jacqueline Scott June 13, 2019

    Thank you Becca! I love your words “as He redefines our foreseeable future”! Amen, may we be open and leaning into Him in this critical stage of life.

  4. Heather Lewis June 16, 2019

    Love this, Jackie! You are one of my heroes. Thanks for sharing your inner journey. Glad you are writing here. So encouraging!

  5. Jacqueline Scott June 17, 2019

    Heather! Thanks for the encouragement. I’m excited for what you’re venturing into now! So fitting… Grace & Truth go with you.

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