April 26, 2023
A Note from Pastor April
I’ve always been a goal-oriented person. I enjoy the work of problem-solving and finding the best possible outcome for everyone involved. Even when it’s hard, the process of overcoming obstacles and getting to the finish line is something I find incredibly satisfying. (Here’s me finishing my longest race ever of 10 miles!)
The reality of life is that some things aren’t things you can “overcome.” Some things can’t simply be problem-solved. Sometimes there are no good options, and all you can attempt to do is choose the least harmful path.
Sometimes you find yourself between a rock and a hard place.
As a parent of a precious child with significant mental and behavioral special needs, I find myself in these moments far more often than I’d like to be.
How do you balance the need for medication with all the possible side effects or long-term implications?
Do you prioritize the emotional and mental support therapies needed if that means the academic learning must take a back seat?
How do you balance the need for your child to experience unconditional love and acceptance while also setting necessary boundaries for the safety of everyone in the home, including the child?
Sometimes there are no good answers.
I was sitting in a meaningful conversation with a parishioner recently as she was sharing the challenging decision that she and her siblings had to make to place her mother in an assisted living memory care unit.
How do they provide for all the needs that she has, while also creating an environment that feels loving and familiar?
Decisions like this are always fraught with so many complex layers of emotion.
Guilt — should I have done more?
Anxiety — will this really help, or will it make things worse?
And most of all — sadness and grief.
The truth is, I wish things were different. I wish my son didn’t have to struggle at the level he does. Making impossible decisions about whether it was safe for him to live in our home was utterly heartbreaking.
And yet, here we are.
Grief is so often something we talk about when it comes to death and dying. That’s important, and I’m glad that we do, but there’s another layer of grief that most of us face more regularly — that has to do with the nuanced losses and hard decisions we make every day. Lost dreams, lost conversations, lost ways of life.
All of us are carrying a tremendous amount of grief.
When I first met Jenny Smith, I knew I had met a soul friend.
Her approach to the journey of life was honest and real. Her Palms Up path invites us to walk through the challenges of our life with honest rhythms that help us to move toward healing.
Cooperate with God
(and my least favorite)
Release the Outcome
Watching Jenny live into these rhythms in the year following the sudden death of her younger brother was a humble privilege. Her grief was raw and honest and led to the beautiful book of poems that was published in February of this year.
What was amazing was how Jenny’s work of grieving Jeremy’s death seemed to open up space for her to more fully face and grieve the many other things she was carrying in her body.
Whether it was shifting relationships or challenging job transitions, Jenny was showing up, paying attention, cooperating with God, and releasing the outcome. I was watching her heal and come alive and claim her voice even more fully.
I don’t know about you, but I can certainly use more spaces of healing in my life.
As much as we’d like to think that time can heal all wounds, the truth is that sometimes we need to create some space to show up to what we are carrying and pay some attention.
This is such a crucial path toward our own healing.
I’m so grateful that Jenny is going to be with us next weekend, May 5 & 6, to do some of that work together for our Weekend of Healing.
On Friday night, May 5, in partnership with our friends at Scioto Ridge UMC, she will lead a service of healing at 7pm (at Scioto Ridge, 4343 Dublin Rd, 43026). This is open to the community and all are welcome (registration not required).
Then on Saturday from 9am-3pm, she will lead a retreat for healing and showing up to our grief. I know you won’t want to miss this special time. You can find out all the details on our website. Register by 4/30 if you want to be included in the lunch. Registrations after 4/30 will be accepted, but you’ll need to pack a lunch.
I hope to see many of you over the weekend. Please share widely with friends and family.
Let’s show up to this process and work on this healing together!
PS: You can read Pastor Jenny’s Letter of Encouragement from last week on our website, “The Lost Years,” about all we lost and are grieving from the pandemic. It’ll give you a sense for who she is and the disarming presence she offers — the kind of experience she’ll bring us next week at the Weekend of Healing.
The Rev. April Blaine