NOTE: If you follow my blog for information on The Citadel, this entry won’t be of interest. It is a personal reflection not related to The Citadel.
In September of 1999 I returned to my studies at Columbia Theological Seminary after the birth of our daughter in November of 1998. 1998 marked the end of a very turbulent 10 years for me. The changes continued after she was born but they slowed to a manageable pace.
In 1988 I was pregnant with my first son and my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She died nine months after the initial diagnosis. I returned from my mother’s funeral to find I would be laid off when my son was born. The company was restructuring and they kept me on until his birth rather than lay me off right away.
My oldest was born in March of 1989. By early 1990 I learned I was expecting my second baby, my husband at the time accepted a job in San Antonio, Texas and we moved there. Six months later he left the job in Texas and moved back to Atlanta. I was on bed rest for several weeks that fall and my second son was born in November of 1990.
Soon after my second son was born I went to work part-time for a United Methodist Retreat Center, January of 1991. That time period is a bit of a blur to me now. Two small children a new job and the loss of my mother left me in a bit of a fog. The job became full-time and was a great distraction from the profound loss I felt when my mother died. To compound the confusing time my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. My sister and I were o the front end of a trend that became known as the sandwich generation. Adults with small children caring for elderly parents.
Dad died in 1993. Shortly after he died it became evident that the my marriage was not going to make it and we separated. In early 1995 the divorce was finalized. In July of 1995 with the help of scholarship money, Student financial aid, and the support of my work place, I began my studies at Columbia Theological Seminary. by the fall of 1995 I was engaged to my now husband. We married January 6, 1996, Epiphany. It seemed an appropriate date to begin our new lives together.
The first few years of marriage were also filled with change. I had two miscarriages the first year we were married. We bought our first house. In January of 1997 my second son who had just turned 6 broke his femur in a bicycle accident. He required care 24/7 and I had to leave school for the semester to care for him.
By early 1998 I was pregnant with our now 18-year-old daughter. The changes didn’t end there. When my daughter was 2 weeks old I was fired from my position at the retreat center. It was a difficult time but I learned by then that God would hold me up in my time of uncertainty.
So, when I went back to my studies at Columbia I began a study on change and the church. I had been through so much in a relatively short period of time studying change and the church seemed an appropriate topic. I used a book, Mighty Stories Dangerous Rituals as the main basis for the study, “The Use of Narrative and Ritual in Leading Church Organizations Through Major Change.”
It was a wonderful way to help me make sense of my personal feelings and emotions, but also a great lens to view the changes I had seen in my former work place, the church I belonged to and the Presbytery, that just went through a change in leadership.
I interviewed several people for the study and video taped the interviews. One in particular has amazing relevance today. I interviewed Dr. Lane Alderman, senior pastor of Roswell Presbyterian Church. Each person I interviewed received a few questions in advance about the change they were going through in their respective positions, and asked them for scripture passages they used to help guide them through the transitions. Their answers to my questions helped me make sense of my own path through tremendous change.
At this point you may be wondering why I decided to write about this now. April 14th will mark one year since Dr. Lane Alderman died after a long battle with cancer. Roswell Presbyterian Church just welcomed our new pastor after a long and thoughtful search. I found myself thinking about my study on change and in particular the conversation I had with Lane about change. This weekend I looked for and found my study from 1999 and uploaded the video interview to YouTube. I’ve shared the link with Lane’s family and the new pastor of our church and decided other people may find his insights helpful as change enters your life.
Back in 1999 the study helped me frame many of the experiences I had gone through. I had no way of knowing then how helpful it would be to me 18 years later.