Anyone who reads this blog with any frequency may be tired of me talking about the difficulties contained within the last few years of my life. I try not to come across as complaining, that’s not my intention at all, but I am different, changed by all that has taken place. I’ve pushed through and just continued to put one foot in front of the other. I’ve not always liked it and I’m sure I’ve had my fair share of complaining, but I can see some progress in myself, and others can as well.
For the past 10 months, I’ve been part of a mission church that consists of about 400 members. Our beginnings were difficult and the road that we have traveled has certainly not been easy, but it’s been a wild ride. Over those 10 months, I’ve been working towards transferring my ordination into the denomination in which we now find ourselves. The process has not been an easy one for me, mostly because of the events taking place in my life over those 10 months. My heart was torn between this preparation and the care of my father over the last few months of his life. He passed away in April, while I was working towards getting through my written examinations.
In August, after passing my written examinations on the second try, I sat for my oral examinations in Charlotte, North Carolina. Although I had studied, I wasn’t prepared for the depth and breadth of the exams. I wouldn’t say that I thought I would breeze through them, but my head and heart were still not completely into the process. I was struggling. I came home from my trip to Charlotte very frustrated and disappointed. I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to subject myself to the process any longer. To be honest, it was a tough ride alone back to Richmond. I was glad for God’s grace at the end of it…..and glad that I had no companions to hear me venting my frustrations to the air surrounding me in the car.
As time went by, my disappointment didn’t necessarily subside, but I felt that God had given me a little bit of objectivity. In the midst of where I was, I was surrounded by (and am still surrounded by) some great people. A friend that I called on the way home from Charlotte after that initial disappointment told me things that stuck and made a mark in my brain. I began to see the possibilities and the benefits that might come out of the whole experience.
The day for my retesting was rapidly approaching and my wife and I had talked for a considerable amount of time. We just weren’t sure what the next step would be for us. There really had never been a question as to whether or not I was supposed to be doing what I was doing, but where I was supposed to be doing it began to emerge in our minds. There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing your own potential and yet experiencing the difficulty of finally realizing that potential.
I continued to prepare, feeling as though my preparation was keeping me from other things. A test of this magnitude is not something to approach lightly. I knew that this would most likely be my second and last attempt. If things didn’t go well, I had no idea what the future would hold. As I prepared, the people who were closest to me knew the details of what was happening, but I didn’t share a lot about it with others.
Shortly after I knew when my reexamination would be, a friend told me that he would join me for my trip. I didn’t think much of it at first, but as the time approached, I checked in with him to see whether or not he was serious. He was, so I booked a room big enough for the two of us. Days and weeks went by and the two of us became the three of us as another friend made the decision to come. Then the three became four and the four became five. All of a sudden, I found myself preparing for a road trip with some pretty incredible friends. These friends were willing to make the sacrifices necessary for me to feel the support. They took off from work, they left their families behind, and they spent time in a car with me for 10 hours (round trip).
When the day came, I felt like everyone else had more confidence in me than I did in myself. Of course, I’m always my own worst critic, and this was no exception. I knew that I had studied and prepared as best as I could. I knew that there were people praying for me. I knew that by the end of the day, I would have some clarification as to what the future held for me.
It was a funny sight walking into the church where the examination took place. Here I was, walking down a hallway towards the room where we were all gathering, followed by four guys: one half Chinese, one bench-pressing champion, one tall race track owner, and one good ol’ boy who looked as if he has stepped off the set of “Duck Dynasty.” One of the examiners asked me if I had brought the Mafia down from Virginia. I refrained from telling him his knees might be broken if I didn’t pass……a wise move on my part.
The end result of the day was a positive one for me. I passed. I’m not quite sure what would have happened had I not, but that’s really not an option that I have to consider. The amount of peace and calmness that I experienced over those 2 days was incredible and I know that it was due to many friends who were praying for me and supporting me.
Through those days, I was reminded of the Beatles’ song, “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends.” Boy, did that mean that much more to me now. I’ve had a lot of opportunities in the midst of the difficulties of the last few years to be frustrated and downtrodden, but I’ve also had some great opportunities to see just how many blessings are around me. I am grateful for all that I have and am blessed to know that I am loved by many people. When the time comes, my hope and prayer is that I can be the same friend to those around me that they have been to me. And when that day comes, I hope that they can say or sing those same words, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”