I sat in the middle of our living room floor and began picking at a slight tear in one of the vinyl tiles we had laid a few years earlier. “This needs to be repaired”, I mumbled to myself as our four children were playing at my feet. Before long large patches of subfloor were showing and pieces of floor tile were strewn about.
A tear in the wallpaper behind the couch caught my attention and I began to pick at it, wanting to fix it – to make it go away. Before long, large tears up the walls had appeared and spools of discarded wallpaper lay around my feet.
My children wore mismatched clothes, sometimes each other’s clothes, until one of them thought it was a funny game their daddy was playing with them and would let me know of my error. It was all I could do to keep them cleaned, changed, dressed, and fed. I would be exhausted, worn out, beyond tired, but when I laid on my bed all I could think about was my wife in her hospital room, daily facing the growing reality of the situation.
The tests had come back. The combination of medical issues happening with the pregnancy would make this pregnancy a once in a lifetime situation for most – if not all – of the team of specialists called in to assist with this case – would see. There were some very real health risks for my wife, and as the pregnancy continued, there were some eventual outcomes that we needed to face, both for my wife and for our baby. However, through all of the information provided, they remained at her side, ready to support whatever decision she made.
And so the pregnancy continued and the team of specialists grew in preparation for what was coming next.
In the meantime, I floundered. We had no income. We had no – or very little support. We did not have reliable transportation for me to travel down to the hospital to see my wife. I was stressed and my wife was stressed, and trying to connect through a telephone line several hundred kilometers apart when all we – I – wanted to do was to be in her arms and cry, made this all the more emotional – all the more vulnerable.
And I didn’t feel safe. In fact, I had no idea at all what that meant.
What I did know was that I was willing to sell my soul to the devil in order to find some amount of support to navigate our way through this journey.
My inadequacy was exposed. My vulnerability was exposed. My brokenness laid out for everyone to see. The house was in shambles, I was in shambles, our children – although their basic needs were taken care of – were in need of some care. I was estranged from my parents and so the remaining support was the wife of my non pastor pastor. It was a role she embraced with enthusiasm and I felt like I had just signed my signature to the sales agreement.
She started coming to our home and caring for my wife’s and my children as I traveled down to the coast. Then she began working on the repairs to our living room, along with her husband when he was back in town, in order to have the place put back into order for when my wife would be returning back home. I was grateful for the help and support and I knew, even at the time, that this was coming at a cost, but it was a cost I was willing to pay. More and more of my life was being turned over to this pastor and his family.
A friend from my work would loan me her car, which allowed me to travel down to the coastal city. Those trips were becoming more and more frequent as the pregnancy progressed and plans were being put into place. Occasionally I would take our van and bring the children down to see their mom, which would provide an opportunity for my non pastor pastor’s wife to come into our home to do some more uninterrupted work on the renovations. She picked the colors. She picked the flooring. She decorated the living room. She arranged the furniture. She set up the schedule for the children. He provided the sermons and instructions on how to live life.