When I said it was an ‘ordinary Thursday’, it seems I spoke too soon! On Ascension Day afternoon Sam proposed to Jessa, kneeling on the concrete in the back garden – until she kindly relocated him to the grass – and, for the time being moving her own old ring to the appropriate finger, she said ‘yes’…
When they excitedly, happily, came inside and told Martin and me it was as everything and yet nothing had changed! We knew that this was always their unspoken plan when Jessica left her life in the US behind, so we have simply been waiting to see how it would unfold as they get to know each other – and telling them both they don’t have to go through with it if they don’t really want to! But now, a spoken commitment and agreement, a promise – with the expectations of happiness and hope and joy, mutual love and friendship – has got to be something that makes a difference and gives a whole new chance at life and a different future.
Nothing but trouble since though, as Sam has careered emotionally downhill. Their wonderful plans to go out and celebrate in Leicester that evening came to nothing when they missed the bus! Sam ran out of energy and steam and had a really bad night – though faithfully comforted by his sadly disappointed fiancée. By Friday morning he could hardly rise above his misery: how can he plan a future when he doesn’t know if he has one? What difference can moving out, living independently, having their own life, really make to his prospects? The challenge of change is undoubtedly frightening and along with being physically under par and psychologically scarred has proved a bit too much to handle: anti-climax deluxe. A second attempt to go to Leicester, with mum as driver, ran into terrible rush hour traffic and eventually the discovery that the cinema was just too far away from the restaurant for them to walk and catch the bus home… and then he got stomach pains and felt really ill. I couldn’t leave them like that, so after over an hour’s round trip we just gave up and came back – with Jess weeping quietly in the back seat, coping with too much disappointment for a girl to bear.
Many, many times I wonder how on earth a successful, middle class family got into such a situation as this. I feel as if every securing rope has been cut and I am in free-fall without a parachute… or have somehow wandered off the map into uncharted territory, with no compass and no way back. As I sat in the gridlock of city traffic for half an hour on a very hot Friday afternoon – having taken several wrong turnings and gone round in circles – it all seemed completely unnecessary and avoidable. ‘Hindsight is always 20:20’, they say: with a bit more wise planning we could have missed the rush, located the independent cinema on a map and realised the problems ahead of time. With a bit more insight and foresight we could even have said, ‘no, Jessa cannot come over here’ or ‘let’s get Sam a brain scan’ when he was 14 years old. Ha!
But there are things you just cannot know or prepare for ahead of time. Plus we prayed a lot about Jessa coming and had peace and assurance to go ahead – it was a risk, but how could we say no to Sam? And truly her being here is a gift, even if we have exchanged one set of problems for another set. Those ‘if only’ thought patterns are really so unhelpful… Perhaps the biggest keys I have found through all of this are acceptance of how things are and trust that the Lord is in control and will help us with what will follow: He is always at peace and never surprised or disappointed!
The truth is we all stumble blindly forward. We got here by following the path God set us on and trusting that we would hear the voice behind us if we turned the wrong way (Isaiah 30v21). We have tried to hold the Lord’s hand when we couldn’t see where we were going for our tears and the twists in the road. All we have is our journey, how far we have come, and the strong testimony that He has not failed us so far and He is faithful. Even though it was testing, even excruciating – but very good for my inner patience muscles! – as I sat behind the wheel waiting and crawling forward, I was at peace, just going with the flow as it all developed, changing plans, trying to find out what they really wanted to do. OK – it didn’t work out this time, but redemption will come through eventually… yes, I do believe that. The evening wasn’t completely ruined as Sam went off to bed and Martin being away, I took Jessa to see a movie we both wanted to see (and our men didn’t!) in Loughborough. At least Jonny Depp made us laugh.
I pray Sam will feel better and more positive this morning, especially as they are going to look at a couple of possible places to live later on! As the sun streams in the window beginning another beautiful June day I remember the love that is ‘new every morning’ and the faithfulness of the Father who never gets weary and continues to work with us and in us – and knows the path we take even when we don’t. So let there be renewed hope and trust, and enough grace for breakthrough!
It’s the third day – seems about time to me.