Last Friday I had lunch with my favorite professor from graduate school. Her classes were always the ones I learned a lot and was most challenged. She has become kind of a mentor to me and has stretched my faith in many different ways. She taught me how to wrestle with ideas and ask hard questions, you know the good kind that make you think.
Towards the end of our lunch meeting (our seminary has the BEST food!), she asked me what were my hopes and dreams for the next 5, 10 years. I told her: write a book, new opportunities in ministry, remarriage at some point, devote energy to causes I am passionate about, etc.
She just smiled at me and said, "Well Patty, don't be surprised if God wants to use all you've been through in each of those area's.
Over the weekend, I received a letter I have been waiting for. It was from our diocesan tribunal with an affirmative decision in regards to my marriage, meaning the annulment went through. No its not a "Catholic divorce" rather an investigation has shown it was never a sacramental marriage to begin with for many reasons.
I found myself going back to my professor's words over the lunch table on Friday as I re-read the letter, so grateful and relieved to finally close the chapter on that relationship.
Sometimes in Scripture childbirth is used as a metaphor for the suffering of God's people as they await delivery in hope. Trials and persecutions are spoken in terms of labor. The point of these analogies is that these sufferings result in new life being born from the old.
Labor from what I hear from my married friends is a lot of mental and physical suffering. But at the end, you have this beautiful, soft, cozy little one to snuggle with and love on.
Jesus never promised us ease or comfort. He told us life would be hard and that we would encounter and face suffering, of all kinds. But suffering is like the seasons, it is temporary...just like the labor of a Momma fiercely working to bring her baby into the world. Labor won't last forever, it is just for a time.
The temporary suffering will at some point give way to new life and joy. Like a woman in labor, birth pangs happen so new life can be birthed into existence.
Life is constant journey of birth, death, labor, and new beginnings. We all will experience them throughout our life, some easier and some much more painful than others.
New life always is born from the old life. New life comes out of the suffering and pain.
New life always comes out of our labor; whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.
Sometimes things have to die so that something stronger can be built.
I am not entirely sure yet what will be built stronger in me as a result of all of this.
But it is exciting to imagine and dream about.
I don't know what will be born in me from the last three years of my life, but I do know one of God's favorite acts is to take broken things and make them new again.
And I cannot wait to see how that unfolds in these new beginnings...