1:10 p.m.

. . . . . . .


. . . . . . .

Decided to write in this journal today. Wow how life has twisted and turned since that last entry. I've been writing in those paper journals but typing is faster for the longer entry I feel I need to write today.

At church yesterday I ended up sitting by the very person from whom I am currently struggling with having received hurt. It was painful but, I think, good. A lot of thoughts and prayers have recently come up to have prepared me for yesterday morning. However, I am feeling a lot of sadness and anger and confusion today as I process yesterday's experience. I am very hurt. Still. And my family is stuck in this in between place now because of other people's poor decisions and dishonourable treatment of us. I can chock it all up to immaturity. I can try to understand. I can forgive. But it still hurts. It still effects our family.

We visited Germany in February of 2015. It was wonderful. We met other Christians in Berlin who love Kreuzberg. We spent time with the squat punx. We even spent time with a friend from home while in Berlin. We me the Steiger folks in Kr√łgis. We were welcomed to move there. We were invited to move there. It was good. We were very happy. It wasn't easy. We were also in mourning at the loss of lttx. But we were hopeful for the future and had faith.

In January we had accepted an internship in another town for when we returned to Canada. In March we moved to that small town that, even though we disliked the culture there, we were trusting we could find a temporary home this new church that offered to accept us, mentor us, help us with our healing and growing, and send us to Berlin after a year of such rest. This church, and being near family, were the only two reasons we moved to the small town. Two reasons. One year. But slowly, over the course of these past two years, each little bit of those two reasons has been plucked away. The church broke their word. They were not as they seemed. Our family was dropped from their internship program without so much as a word from the pastor who we had moved here to be mentored by. Dropped. Left to fend for ourselves. And this is the pain I still feel toward that pastor, the one I sat by yesterday unexpectedly at the totally different church we now attend. Still no words for us. So much kindness, but no words. No sorry. No explanation. Just words sent through other people to us, people poor at communication, people who we tried for a year to trust, but who were such immature pastors that week after week I would leave more wounded than healed..... ..

Ignorant comments on the trans community. Racist comments. Nationalism. Sexism. I left and didn't give an explanation. And I have been a pastor before. I know what it is like to suddenly not see someone anymore after getting to know them, loving them, for a year or whatever. I had run out of words. I had run out of tears. I left. I took my husband, my kids, and left. I have found a new home, although it is strange to be anonymous. There is a coffee and snack time in which I have gotten to visit with the elderly crowd that has welcomed our family. I love them. They are kind. They are not anarchists. They are not our old friends. Lttx is truly far away, spread out.

Over this Advent and Christmas we went through a lot. I was listening to the audio drama of The Hiding Place. I could feel grattitude that our family's situation was not as bad as Corrie's. In October, our brother asked us to leave his house. We had only planned on being there one year and then moving on to Germany. But then the church dropped us. We grieved. We wrapped our wounds. We found other work. We were starting to find our feet. And then our brother asked us to leave. So we moved down the street from him so that we could move on. It was the only place we could find quickly, and even though he had given us 90 days, we were feeling unwelcome and wanted to move on as soon as possible. So we moved in November. And a week before Christmas we reconciled with our brother. It was difficult. There were tears at Tim Hortons. But Christmas morning saw our family together at our new house, sharing presents and wine and hugs.

At 4:30 in the afternoon, our apartment building caught fire and the unit adjacent to ours was destroyed. We had to leave immediately and sent the kids down the street to have their Christmas dinner with our brother's family. By 8pm the fire was fully extinguished and the fire cheif said we could return home. We put the kids to bed. Our Aunty, who was supposed to have joined us for dinner that evening, was with us helping with the kids, helping to comfort us, and simply being a loving presence to us amid all the tumult of emotions. By 11 that night, we were told we couldn't stay in our home anymore. The red cross came, took our information, and by 11:30 our family was driving to another town with our cat and all our most special belongings to stay at the Holiday Inn for three days. We were a charity case sleeping in a hotel on Christmas, just like Jesus' family on the very first Christmas. We were tired but hopeful that we could return home by the end of the 72 hours red cross gave us of housing. It was cold, about minus twenty that week. My feet were cold from standing outside with the firefighters watching the smoke, listening to the firefighters axe through the neighbour's floor and ceiling, hoping my home would not also be destroyed. The workers on the scene told us we would likely be able to return within days. Later we learned that our return would take several months, if we were allowed to return at all. The apartment building is very old and in rough shape and may just be demolished.

Friends contacted us with their condolences. Friends wired us money. Friends helped us look for a new home for the new year. But we didn't find anything. No one wanted to rent to a family of four with an animal. Because of the nature of house-renting I ended up telling our Christmas story several times to people with the power to give our family a home or deny it. I looked at nice homes that rejected our application and I looked at terrible homes with inflated prices whose owners were glad to accept anyone who would pay their exhorbitant prices. I cried a lot. I listened to The Hiding Place as I drove from house to house, explaining our situation to these people with the power to house our family. I forgave. I delved deep into my heart and forgave those pastors who we had trusted to guide our family through this tough time in this small town in which we now feel stuck. I truly forgave. And I truly felt freed from anger. But...

Yesterday I went to church, to our new church, a church that accepts queer people and women without judgment, our new church where our family isn't dependant on the whims of the pastors to decide our future. And there was this dude sitting in the place where our family usually sits. This dude I had forgiven, but to whom is still connected so much pain. I didn't feel trapped into sitting beside him, but by the time I saw who he was I knew that I would have to physically turn around and lead my kids away from him to sit at the back where the kids wouldn't be able to see what was going on in the service. I knew, after having that experience listening to The Hiding Place, that it would probably be good for me to sit beside him.
It was like when you go to thanksgiving dinner with your extended family, who you don't get along with, but you can be kind to them for a few hours once a year. You can treat them honourably. You can be kind. You can listen to their stories. You can even share with them your own. But then maybe when you leave you remember the unresolved pain, and it takes a little while to get yourself back to a place where you can remember that you really are safe now. You don't live with your parents anymore and they don't have the power over you to hurt you anymore. It's just once a year.
Well, it seems that the body of Christ is like thanksgiving dinner sometimes, usually unexpectedly. I didn't rip into this dude. I didn't even want to. I wanted to remember that he is part of my family, even if he has caused me great pain.
On Sundays, we share communion with so many distant brothers and sisters around the globe with whom we wouldn't be able to live our daily lives. It isn't often that you are suddenly having communion next to the very one who you can't help but blame for your family's current deep pain and dashed hopes.
I am angry. I am hurt. So very hurt. My trust is broken. I feel thrown away like garbage, when I came here to be reminded that I am worth more. It hurts so much.
We want to be in Berlin. We want to even be in Edmonton again. We want to be somewhere where we understand the people around us and are contributing to justice. We are frustrated with this lull that has not been fruitful in the ways we were told it would be. It is a lull. An in-between. A filler section.
There were two reasons for us moving here: to be mentored and supported, and to be near family. These two reasons have dissolved, like our old church. Berlin in my mind is like a misty, dissolving dream. I am not hopeful right now beyond my gratitude for having found a home for our family. I do not have vision for the future. When I smell smoke I feel afraid and trapped. I used to like candles.

So much of my writing over the years has been sad. It is when I am sad that I write the most. If someone were to read my writing in the future, it would seem I was a sadder person than I generally am. When I speak with people, I am so positive, so thankful, so encouraging, so bright. It's like all my darkest feelings are confined to the page. My mouth cannot utter fear or darkness. Sometimes people I'm close to are frustrated by my verbal positivity and reclusive sadness. I try not to be dishonest when in a public place people ask me how I am doing. If I am very sad but hanging on, I will say, "I'm okay." When I say that, I'm usually thinking, "I'm not in deep despair right now, but I'm not doing very well either." If they ask more, or we have any amount of time or privacy, I will tell more of how I feel, explaining that "okay" means "barely hanging on, but hanging on nonetheless."

Alone I may feel, but alone I am not.

to & fro

old paint