We made it back to Texas. I was looking for work. Mary was looking for work. My brother and his family were gracious providing us with housing arrangements.
By the end of February, I took work as a bus driver. In April, Mary had her own job in transportation. Even though we were visiting churches, and things were progressing regarding employment, my frustration regarding the situation was palpable.
I expressed how difficult 2010 was. The manner in which the church handled things irritated me and the way they discussed my character disgusted me. To add to the difficulty, while I was no longer in the pulpit, the congregation allowed me to finish teaching a class that had begun. I was grateful for that, as were those students, but at the same time it was uneasy for me.
Now, I simply reflect on it, asking: if I was such a heretic, why on earth did they permit me to continue teaching class? Evidently, I wasn’t the horrific heretic some made me out to be.
Once out of the pulpit, other than completing the class, I was present, but felt like an unwanted house guest. Others taught the adult classes. Others preached from the pulpit. I sat on the pew, somewhat sullen, discouraged, not saying a word, all while I looked for work and ministered to those who had been hurt.
Inside my being, I felt like attending other churches in the area, doing something other than remaining with that particular congregation. But I remained. Partly out of personal conviction to minister unto those I believe were hurt by the change. Partly out of personal obligation: they supported my transition, so I supported the congregation itself. Partly because I was uncertain what else to do.
All the training, all the Bible study, all the prayers, all the personal relationships, could not have in any way prepared me for what happened. I had no experience with such difficulty. Even though I knew that everyone didn’t, I felt like everyone blamed me, especially some that were closest to me.
While in Indiana, I was able to keep my composure. But when we departed for Texas my composure failed, beginning at the moment I had to say goodbye to my friend. I arrived in Texas, not knowing what to expect, but expecting something.
Based on conversations that I had before leaving Indiana, when I arrived in Texas, I thought things were going to unfold in a particular way. Things did not unfold as expected. To boot, I didn’t like the job I had been given, but felt the obligation to take it and make the best of it, because I needed to support my family.
In my eyes, I did as I had been instructed from family and faith: pursue the truth, no matter where it lies. In my eyes, my fulfilling of that instruction was rejected. In turn, I felt rejected, which made me feel like a failure.
I had poured my entire being into dedicating myself to God, to church, to serving in the church, doing my utmost to be faithful to God, faithful to God’s word, and faithful to expectations. I became not only dejected and dispirited, but also rejected and disparaged. While no one officially labeled me a heretic, I was treated as one, and the news of my departure made its way through certain parts of the brotherhood.
From everything that I thought I was supposed to be, I felt personally and emotionally betrayed and injured, which led to excruciatingly intense initial days when we returned to Texas. I didn’t just have feelings, I expressed those feelings, and my feelings of failure where in the forefront. I could taste it. It was acidic, rancid. It was poisoning me and my entire relationship structure.
In those days, I was willing to throw everything and everyone away. I felt like a failure. I saw myself as a failure. To make matters worse, I was conducting myself in ways that would ensure that I would become a failure, starting with doing everything emotionally possible to distance myself from Mary.
Those days were dark and disgusting. I tried being rational and work through my problem. But I hated myself. I argued with Mary, and did everything I could to get her to buy into the idea of getting a divorce. I am not sure how Mary or my brother’s family endured what I was experiencing.
Sadly, I think I got pretty damned close to getting divorced. Around that time, the song Breakaway was still quite popular and the song has its power. That power was not helping my situation with Mary. Later, only after things had become more stable, did Mary reveal to me that she actually had moments of considering divorce, and that she had to turn off that song because it encouraged her to consider the possibility of leaving me.
That was probably the worst experience in my entire life. In a phrase, it sucked. But Mary endured. I am not sure why. I was most unpleasant. Yet, here we are on the other side of that turmoil, due in no small part because my wife was absolutely unwilling to give up on me.
I also feel for my brother and his family, I feel certain that I was absolutely useless in their house. My brother was cordial, and conducted himself with me the best possible way. But I was unpleasant, and probably disrespectful to him in ways that I don’t even begin to perceive.
Mary took a job in April. Sadly, somewhere around that time, the tension in my brother’s house had grown, in no small part due to me. Things had developed to a difficult point, and in May we moved out.
Our moving out did not feel mutual. It felt unfair and unneeded. But looking back it was proper, no matter how much I despised its occurrence. Just as much as I needed space to recover, my brother needed his space for him and his family. He helped me, and for that I will always be grateful.
We moved to a new place. A place I never, not in my wildest dreams, expected to live as a family, especially a family with teenagers. We moved into a larger travel trailer.
The manner in which the trailer became our home was definitely a God-send. Mary did her research. We were ready to drive to Houston to purchase a travel trailer. But just prior to the weekend that we were to go, Mary found a travel trailer near us.
It was listed on Thursday, and Mary communicated with them. We saw it Friday night, and expressed our desire to buy. We signed papers the next day, and moved in the following week. The seller graciously put new tires on the trailer and moved it to the park where we have lived for the last five years.
When I look back, even in all the tumult, I see can see God at work. Much to my dismay, God put me directly in a job that he wanted. Much to my dismay and dislike, God provided housing. Much to my encouragement, God gave Mary work.
Like I have mentioned previously, I must have not really fully believed anything that I had been given as insight from God. At that point, I gave little value to those words. Even the prayers that I had prayed months before, I held in low esteem.
Even though I had written information about Theology, relationally, all I wanted was to let everyone know how much it sucked to be me. And I did a pretty damned good job at making that happen, almost destroying my marriage.
Practically, I neglected the relevance of all that I had been told about God changing and reshaping my life, even when I was told that tumult was part of it. Yet, portions of my journal records have me talking about God’s involvement.
Blessings and Shalom